Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara closed a criminal probe into National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir for pulling out a pistol during an altercation with Arab security guards at a Tel Aviv parking lot nearly two years ago, her office announced Thursday.
Baharav-Miara said she saw little chance of convicting Ben Gvir, head of the ultranationalist Otzma Yehudi party, given the results of an investigation into the incident.
The incident occurred in December 2021 as Ben Gvir, at the time an opposition lawmaker, parked his car at the Expo exhibition center in Tel Aviv, where he was attending an event.
Guards asked him to move his car, as it was apparently parked in a prohibited spot and a dispute broke out, with Ben Gvir claiming the two security guards made aggressive threats that left him feeling his life was in danger.
The security guards did not appear to be armed.
“It is not possible to determine the exact circumstances that led to the beginning of the conflict and how it developed,” Baharav-Miara wrote in her decision to close the case.
Though Ben Gvir did not behave as expected as a regular citizen, “let alone as expected of an elected official,” the decision read, it was not possible to rule out that the lawmaker acted on a feeling there was a real threat to his life.
חבר הכנסת איתמר בן גביר שולף אקדח לעבר עובדים ערבים בחניון גני התערוכה בתל אביב. הצדדים התעמתו סביב חנייה. בן גביר טוען שהעימות החל בגלל שהם קיללו ואיימו על חייו. בתיעוד נוסף אחד מהם נשמע אומר: "אם אתם גברים תבואו כולכם בלי נשק, אני מזיין אתכם, כולכם פה" pic.twitter.com/eSjFutSyvl
— רן שמעוני Ran Shimoni (@ran_shimoni) December 22, 2021
The altercation was caught on video by one of the guards; Benzi Gopstein, the leader of the far-right, anti-LGBTQ Lehava organization, who was accompanying Ben Gvir to the event, also filmed the incident.
In one clip, Ben Gvir can be seen with his gun drawn, briefly holding it up to show it to the guards, and then keeping it down, still holding it, as he advances towards the pair, shouting: “You will not threaten me, I will take care of you.”
In Gopstein’s video, the guard can be seen shouting at Ben Gvir’s entourage: “If you are real men, come at me, all of you, without weapons, I will fuck up all of you.”
Ben Gvir, who claimed that he had offered to move his car, called the police, who questioned both the Knesset member and the security guards.
הגעתי לחניון בגני התערוכה ושני מאבטחים ערבים ניסו לתקוף אותי. שלומי טוב, המשטרה בדרכה למקום. pic.twitter.com/b03vV0VJeW
— איתמר בן גביר (@itamarbengvir) December 21, 2021
A few months earlier, Ben Gvir was involved in a physical clash with an Arab lawmaker, MK Ayman Odeh, who now leads the predominantly Arab-member Hadash-Ta’al party.
The two confronted each other at the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, where a Palestinian hunger striker suspected of terrorism was being treated.
The lawmaker, who lives in a West Bank settlement and says he carries the gun for protection, was filmed last year pulling out his gun as he confronted Palestinian protesters in East Jerusalem, despite being surrounded by bodyguards.
הערב בשמעון הצדיק – מחבלים ערבים זורקים אבנים ומסכנים את חיי ואת חיי התושבים כאן והשוטרים מפחדים לירות. הממשלה הזו כובלת את ידי השוטרים ומסכנת אותם ואת אזרחי המדינה, ואנחנו פה כדי להגן עליהם. דם יהודי אינו הפקר.
צילום:זושא לוסטיג. pic.twitter.com/hAeWDSMbDf
— איתמר בן גביר (@itamarbengvir) October 13, 2022