A former deputy head of the Shin Bet security service reportedly told a political gathering that MK Betzalel Smotrich, the head of the National Union party, was a “Jewish terrorist,” who planned to blow up cars on a major highway during the 2005 Gaza disengagement.
Yitzhak Ilan, who is running on the Blue and White list, told a gathering of party activists that he personally interrogated Smotrich, who was arrested in the run up to the Gaza evacuation, Channel 13 reported Sunday.
It had previously been reported that Smotrich was held by the Shin Bet security service for three weeks on suspicion that he was planning to block major traffic arteries and damage infrastructure to protest the withdrawal. He was part of a cell of five people who were caught allegedly planning an attack with 700 liters of gasoline, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported. He was released without any charges being brought.
Ilan appeared to confirm this, reportedly telling the gathering: “I interrogated Smotrich, and if they [a right-wing coalition] come to power, he will probably educate your children,” Ilan said according to Channel 13 news, referring to reports Smotrich is set to take on the education portfolio if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forms a coalition with the Union of Right Wing Parties to which Smotrich’s National Union belongs.
“He is a terrorist. He’s Jewish, but he’s a terrorist,” Ilan reportedly said. “At the time of the disengagement he wanted to blow up cars on the Ayalon highway, at rush hour, with gasoline. We caught him with 700 liters (185 gallons) of the stuff.”
“Like a common criminal, he exercised his right to remain silent for three weeks, he’s hiding this, you won’t find it anywhere,” said Ilan, according to the TV report. “He kept silent for three weeks.”
Smotrich denied the claims to Channel 13.
“There never was any connection to any 700 liters. Recycling lies over and over does not make them true,” Smotrich said.
“I am very proud of my role in the opposition to the expulsion (from Gaza) that was a democratic and completely legitimate struggle,” he said, noting that he was freed without any charges being filed against him.
Smotrich, a co-founder of of the right-wing NGO Regavim which targets illegal construction by non-Jews in Israel and the West Bank, entered the Knesset in 2015 and quickly became known for his uncompromising right-wing views and controversial remarks.
During his four years in the Knesset, he has made headlines for encouraging draft-dodging in protest of the IDF’s “radical feminist” agenda, for comparing the evacuation of an illegal settlement outpost to a “brutal rape,” and for claiming that “illiterate” Arabs are only granted university admission thanks to affirmative action. He has also called himself a “proud homophobe,” called for segregated Jewish-Arab maternity wards in hospitals, and was involved in organizing an anti-gay “Beast Parade” in Jerusalem in response to the city’s annual Gay Pride parade.