Ben Gvir raises specter of intercommunal riots in mixed Jewish-Arab cities

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

National Security Minister and far-right leader Itamar Ben Gvir says, during a visit to a Sderot police station, that he has instructed the police commissioner to be prepared for “a scenario of Guardian of the Walls 2,” a reference to the severe inter-communal riots in mixed Jewish-Arab cities that accompanied the 2021 conflict with Hamas.

A spokesman for Ben Gvir confirms he was referencing the possibility of Arabs rioting in mixed Jewish-Arab cities.

Ben Gvir made similar comments on Monday as he announced the distribution of assault rifles to civilian security teams in border towns, West Bank settlements, and mixed Jewish-Arab cities.

According to the Maariv daily newspaper, senior government officials criticized the minister for his comments, calling him “an irresponsible person” and telling him to “compose himself.”

“This war proves that the citizens are heroes, this war proves how important it is to arm the civilians, the civilian security teams, in parallel to a strong police force,” says Ben Gvir.

Hamas terrorists infiltrated and occupied a central police station in Sderot during its savage assault on Israel on Saturday, which was eventually destroyed in the effort to kill the terrorists.

Ben Gvir says his ministry has ״turned Sderot into an eligible town,” meaning that all Sderot residents are now able to obtain and bear firearms, as part of the National Security Ministry’s efforts to bolster civilian security.

“In parallel, I have instructed the police commissioner to be prepared for a Guardian of the Walls 2 scenario… to be prepared for the infiltration of towns,” he adds.

Israel’s mixed Jewish-Arab cities were the scene of intense riots during the May 2021 conflict with Hamas. Three people were killed and hundreds more were hurt in days of violent unrest in mixed cities.

Ben Gvir, at the time an MK but not a minister, urged armed Israeli civilians to go to these cities to combat Arab rioters, leading Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, who is still serving in his position now under Ben Gvir, to reportedly blame the far-right politician for the riots.

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