PM complains protesters 'got right up to fence' near his home

‘Enemy of the people’: Minister assails AG at stormy overnight cabinet meeting

Ben Gvir fumes at Netanyahu, accusing him of rushing through a vote on aid to Gaza before he arrived; participants accuse each other of incitement

File - Minister David Amsalem arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on May 7, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
File - Minister David Amsalem arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on May 7, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Cabinet ministers hurled angry accusations at each other in a stormy meeting overnight Thursday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s allies accusing the attorney general of putting the premier’s life at risk.

Hebrew-language media reported that Regional Cooperation Minister David Amsalem called Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, who was present at the meeting, an “enemy of the people” for failing to prosecute protesters at a Tuesday anti-government rally that descended into chaos when demonstrators pushed through barricades toward Netanyahu’s home.

War cabinet member Benny Gantz castigated Amsalem, saying it was unbecoming to speak that way about “loyal public servants” such as the attorney general.

“But that’s what I think,” replied Amsalem, “she comports herself in a scandalous fashion, like some politician, and allows the chaos and threats on the prime minister’s life.”

Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar on Wednesday issued a rare rebuke of the previous night’s demonstration, after several dozen protesters stormed barricades around Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence while the premier himself was there.

Netanyahu also raised the issue at the cabinet meeting.

“The writing is not on the wall, but on the fence — I saw how they got right up to the fence around the residence,” said Netanyahu at the meeting, adding, “There is incitement.”

According to the Hebrew-language reports, the cabinet had convened Thursday night to discuss a potential Iranian strike to avenge an alleged Israeli strike that killed a top Revolutionary Guard officer in Damascus on Monday. The cabinet also voted to open the Erez crossing into northern Gaza to allow more aid to flow into the famine-struck enclave, where Israel is fighting an ongoing war with Hamas.

Police in Jerusalem try to push back people in a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and for the release of the hostages on April 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir was reportedly outraged when, arriving some 20 minutes late, he was informed that a vote had already taken place to increase aid into Gaza. He accused Netanyahu of moving the vote up because he knew the far-right minister would oppose it — even though Ben Gvir’s vote would not have been enough to block the measure.

“Since when do we vote at the beginning of a meeting? Never. Votes always take place at the end,” Ben Gvir was quoted as saying. Following Ben Gvir’s outburst, Netanyahu’s office announced that it would be adding Ben Gvir’s opposition to the vote to the protocols of the meeting.

Ben Gvir was also critical of law enforcement for what he perceived as insufficient prosecution against rowdy demonstrators.

“Last week, when I warned about the incitement against the prime minister, the Shin Bet chief disregarded me and said [the incitement’s source was an] ‘Iranian bot,'” said Ben Gvir.

“And look what happened this week — [protesters] came violently almost into the prime minister’s home and almost burned a cop,” he said, referring to a policeman at whom a protester had lobbed a lit torch during Tuesday’s protest.

File: National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir arrives at a voting station in Tel Aviv, during the municipal elections, February 27, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

War cabinet member Gadi Eisenkot remarked that Ben Gvir himself had been present at demonstrations where protesters chanted against him while he was IDF chief of staff: “Gadi, be careful, Rabin is looking for a friend,” referring to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who was assassinated by a far-right extremist in 1995.

Ben Gvir fired back at Eisenkot, calling him a “liar.”

“I may have yelled all kinds of nonsense when I was little,” Ben Gvir claimed, “but never something like that or any kind of call for physical harm.”

Ben Gvir gave a memorable interview shortly before Rabin’s murder, in which the then-19-year-old far-right activist proudly hoisted an emblem he had swiped off the premier’s car and said: “Just like we got this emblem, so we can get to Rabin.”

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