Ben Gvir blasted by Bennett after blaming Shin Bet head for security blunders

Far-right MK accuses Ronen Bar of failing to address terror wave and instead dealing with blocking him from Old City; PM accuses Otzma Yehudit politician of being ‘anti-Israeli’

MK Itamar Ben Gvir shouts at Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a plenum session in the Knesset plenum on October 11, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Itamar Ben Gvir shouts at Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a plenum session in the Knesset plenum on October 11, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir drew furious condemnation Friday after railing against the head of the Shin Bet security service, accusing him of being responsible for a series of “failures” that led to a string of terror attacks and tensions in Jerusalem and Gaza.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other top government politicians slammed Ben Gvir, from the extremist Otzma Yehudit faction, and backed Shin Bet head Ronen Bar against the attack.

“His actions are cowardly and anti-Israeli, meant to set the country ablaze through jealousy and chaos,” Bennett said of Ben Gvir. “Shin Bet head Ronen Bar is a person who has dedicated his entire life, working around the clock, to make sure we can sleep peacefully at night. If anyone has any complaints about political decisions — I am the prime minister. I’m the address.”

Writing on social media, Ben Gvir accused the Shin Bet of dropping the ball on security, blaming him for recent clashes at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, terror attacks in late March and early April in Beersheba, Bnei Brak, Hadera and Tel Aviv, and increased tensions in Gaza, including renewed rocket fire.

The comments came after reports that the Shin Bet had recommended Ben Gvir be blocked from leading a nationalist march through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City last week for fear of sparking a wider conflict.

“While the Temple Mount is burning and terror attacks are increasing, the Shin Bet needs to deal with the security of the nation and not briefings against me,” he wrote on Twitter.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called on opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu to publicly condemn Ben Gvir.

“Itamar Ben Gvir, the convicted felon who Netanyahu wants to appoint as public security minister, has marked a new target for his attacks — head of the Shin Bet and his team,” Lapid wrote.

“Shin Bet fighters risk their lives every day to protect Israel. I offer my support to them and to Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar,” he added.

Other ministers and senior politicians also slammed Ben Gvir.

Responding to the criticism, Ben Gvir accused Bennett of using the Shin Bet for his own political needs.

“I like the Shin Bet but its chief should not be allowed to hold briefings against a public official. The distorted logic that lies behind Bennett’s remarks is that the Shin Bet is allowed to hold briefings against me but I can’t respond to their incitement against me. Hypocrisy,” he said.

Ben Gvir’s comments were in reference to a report that the Shin Bet recently urged Bennett and other Israeli politicians to bar him from marching through Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate and into the Muslim Quarter of the Old City as part of a nationalist protest, which the organization warned, could lead to a “second war with Gaza.”

“Ben Gvir’s arrival is a detonator, and a detonator must be defused,” a Shin Bet official reportedly said last week. “These provocations could lead to further violence and a ramping up of tensions to the point of setting the whole region in flames.”

Bennett subsequently declared that Ben Gvir would be barred from the Damascus Gate area, and the marchers were also prevented from entering the Old City via that route.

MK Itamar Ben Gvir joins right-wing activists participating in a ‘flag march,’ planned to reach Jerusalem’s Old City, but ultimately stopping beforehand at Tzahal Square, on April 20, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ben Gvir also claimed to be under constant threat, which he suggested was the result of incitement carried out against him by the Shin Bet and certain unnamed politicians.

He shared on Twitter a screenshot of a private message he had received with explicit death threats and images of live ammunition and a burning Israeli flag.

“Politicians on the left never condemn threats made against right-wing officials. They only wake up when threats target left-wing officials,” Ben Gvir argued. “I demand that Prime Minister Bennett, Minister Lapid and members of the far-left coalition, condemn the dangerous statements made by the director of the Shin Bet and the specific actions taken against me,” he added.

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