On Thursday, MK Itamar Ben Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) had demanded the sacking of Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai even before the latter depicted him as one of the main culprits in the escalation of violence between Arabs and Jews in Israel’s mixed cities.
Ben Gvir post on Facebook on Tuesday: “The sole responsibility for tonight’s events in Lod, Bat Yam, Tveria, and Akko lies with the police, who exhibited helplessness in dealing with the terrorism of the Islamic Movement, which led the masses to take to the streets after realizing that the police had abandoned the residents of Lod. When the public feels insecure and a wild west atmosphere, it takes the initiative and picks up the law from the floor.”
Then, according to a News 12 report, Commissioner Shabtai said: “The person responsible for this intifada is Itamar Ben Gvir. It started with the demonstration of Lehava at the Damascus Gate, continued with the provocation in Sheikh Jarrah, and now he’s hanging out with Lehavah activists in the mixed cities. Yesterday we managed to calm down Akko until he showed up with activists on the bus and caused unrest. The police do not have the tools to deal with him.”
The right-wing MK responded on Friday with this image which has since been shared by thousands on the social networks:
You abandoned the residents of Lod
Abandoned our security
And now you blame Ben Gvir?
Ben Gvir elaborated: “It is clear that the police want to shut me up after I called this morning to fire the commissioner. Kobi Shabtai acts like we’re in the Banana Republic. I called for the commissioner to be fired, so they are briefing against me. Senior police officials claim that Ben Gvir is leading a Jewish intifada. Had the police invested the time they spend in public relations in protecting civilians against the rioters, our situation would have been much better. They will not shut my mouth, the commissioner must go home.”
Earlier this week, Haaretz this week called for the sacking of Commissioner Shabtai for all the opposite reasons – mainly his weakness in curbing the provocations of Jews against Arabs. Now many on the left found distasteful the commissioner’s attempt to depict Ben Gvir as the reason for Israeli Arab rampant violence against their Jewish neighbors. The left also pointed to the fact that Shabtai was an appointment of Likud Internal Security Minister Amir Ohana, and therefore of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The police utter failure in defending against Arab rioters included reported incidents in which Jews came up to police who were gathered at intersections not far from where the Arab mob was going door to door in search of vulnerable Jewish residents – only to be told by the cops that they are afraid to move in because of the dreaded Department of Investigating Police (Machash).
Arguably, in situations where the police are so reluctant to maintain law and order, those who go out and do it should not be condemned as vigilantes, they should be viewed as the real police.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the magistrate court in Rishon Lezion released the three Jews from Lod who shot at a rioter who tried to murder them. Even though this is clearly a case of self-defense, the three are going to be indicted for murder.