Hebrew media outlets report that an argument broke out earlier today between ministers at the cabinet meeting, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and far-right Public Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir disagreeing about the distinction between terrorists and noncombatants.
According to the simultaneous reports, which imply a deliberate leak, Ben Gvir demanded that Israel treat as combatants Gazan civilians who joined Hamas terrorists and looted Israeli communities on October 7, as well as Palestinians who handed out sweets to celebrate the murderous assault.
Netanyahu reportedly said Israel distinguishes between civilians and terrorists: “The terrorists first of all harm the population, and after that also combat fighters, a bit. For us, it is the other way around. We want to give the population entire areas to build tents, hospitals, we will give humanitarian support — this gives us power.”
Justice Minister Yariv Levin agreed, saying “we must have this distinction between uninvolved and involved. We’re making immense efforts to avoid harming uninvolved people.”
Ben Gvir then interjected: “You’re all the time talking about uninvolved people, but I want it to be clear. This old man running with a stick to abuse civilians — is he uninvolved? He is a terrorist. He is involved. Those who give out sweets and encourage murder are involved, and so are those who came to loot. They are involved, they are terrorists.”
Netanyahu, according to the reports, replied that Israel won’t kill hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and will “make a distinction between terrorists and the population.”
Ben Gvir has complained about being sidelined from wartime decision-making. He isn’t in the war cabinet directing the war, and he says the security cabinet he is part of has not been seriously weighing his stances.