Photo Credit: Courtesy
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir with the Border Guard Mistaravim unit, January 18, 2024.

The mainstream media as well as the AG are renewing their attacks on National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is this: a Maariv political poll that was published Friday morning continues the trend of similar polls that show Ben Gvir increasing his power even as Netanyahu’s Likud party is sinking into the abys. If the elections were held today, Ben Gvir’s party would have won 9 Knesset seats, compared with its current 6. Bezalel Smotrich’s sister party, Religious Zionism, would drop from 7 to 4 seats, but together the two parties retain their 13 seats in the Knesset (not including the 1-seat Noam party).

This, above all else, paints a target on Ben Gvir’s back, which, happily, that’s the way he likes it.


Toward the end of this week, the National Security Minister said two things that upset the powers that be, not because he was wrong, but because he was expressing the clear wishes of many Israelis, which can’t be good for the folks who are really in charge.


During a Thursday visit to the Mistaravim unit of the Border Guard in Judea and Samaria, Ben Gvir said, “You have all the backing from me, when your life is in danger, or when you see a terrorist––even if he does not endanger you, shoot. I’m your back.”

Ben Gvir’s statement was crucial to the morale of Israeli law enforcement following an incident in which Yuval Castleman, an Israeli man who shot and killed terrorists, was nevertheless killed by police even though he had dropped his weapon, got down on his knees, and yelled that he was a Jew. This is the kind of error that devastates security services, and Ben Gvir showed the courage and leadership to declare that the new rules of engagement stand despite that tragic event.

The minister continued: “One hair on your head is worth a thousand terrorists. The entire nation of Israel stands behind you, trusts you, and is certain that you will fight the terrorists with determination. The State of Israel will know how to reach any terrorist, wherever he is, in any place, and in any situation. I saw your abilities, you are the spearhead of the Border Guard.”

His courage and leadership earned Ben Gvir some scathing attacks on the left, including this typical op-ed by Revit Hecht in Haaretz: “Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, the representative of the strengthening Kahnism, is currently the most successful opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. ‘Ben Gvir does whatever he wants today, no consideration for Bibi,” says one Likud Minister. ‘He doesn’t try to get along, doesn’t try to toe the line, and it works for him. He is on a campaign, and this campaign yields him strong polls. You see how weak Netanyahu is in front of him, he doesn’t fire him. He doesn’t do anything to him. He has no alternative.”

And so on.


One other act of leadership, equally courageous, has earned Ben Gvir a direct attack from his arch-nemesis, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara.

It began with a petition to the High Court of Justice against the Israel Prison Service and other security agencies demanding they transfer to the Red Cross information about dozens of Hamas terrorists who were arrested in Gaza to be interrogated and incarcerated in Israel. The response of the security agencies and the state attorney’s office was to allow the Red Cross to receive this information from the prison service, however, Minister Ben Gvir, whose office is in charge of the IPS, forbade the transfer of the requested information, which delays the government’s response to the petition.

According to Minister Ben Gvir, humanitarian gestures will only be granted in exchange for humanitarian gestures. “They want information about the Hamas terrorists – let them give information about our hostages.”

Naturally, the AG went on the attack Thursday, with this cryptic statement, “Following Minister Ben Gvir’s announcement, we want to clarify that this is a decision that goes beyond the authority of the Minister of National Security and is subject to the political-security echelon.”

Maybe, maybe not. It’s still gratifying to see one government minister who has retained his common sense.

I must confess, in my September 2021 “Man of the Year” article for The Jewish Press (Man of the Year 5781: The Indefatigable MK Itamar Ben-Gvir), I wrote, “His political activity—and he is on 24/6—is usually two measures of street theater to one measure of political message. The vast majority of his videos include at least a few frames where he is smiling with undeniable pleasure, a cat-that-ate-the-cream kind of self-satisfied smile. He is grandiose, even bombast, and you know he loves the attention.”

In light of his decisive leadership this year, especially since October 7, 2023, I take it back. Not that Ben Gvir is no longer skilled at street theater – he is still the best. But he has grown to become so much more than that. These days, he is the one leader of the Zionist right who doesn’t waver, and doesn’t utter false notes.

I see no reason not to vote for him again should Bibi lose his mind and declare early elections.


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David writes news at