Police to probe far-right MK for remarks backing violent West Bank settler rampage

Investigation comes after Otzma Yehudit’s Zvika Fogel said ‘a closed, burnt Huwara – that’s what I want to see’ after deadly riot by extremists

Otzma Yehudit MK Zvika Fogel leads the Knesset's National Security Committee meeting, in Jerusalem, February 27, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Otzma Yehudit MK Zvika Fogel leads the Knesset's National Security Committee meeting, in Jerusalem, February 27, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Police on Wednesday looked set to launch an incitement investigation into coalition lawmaker Zvika Fogel for voicing support for rioters who earlier this week torched dozens of Palestinian vehicles as well as several homes in the northern West Bank.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara and State Prosecutor Amit Aisman cleared police to launch the investigation of Fogel, head of the Knesset’s National Security Committee.

The Otzma Yehudit MK, a former Israel Defense Forces brigadier general, gave his unambiguous backing on Monday to the extremist settlers, saying: “A closed, burnt Huwara — that’s what I want to see.”

“That’s the only way to achieve deterrence. After a murder like yesterday’s, we need burning villages when the IDF doesn’t act,” Fogel told Galey Israel Radio.

Hours after a Palestinian shooting terror attack that killed brothers Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19, from the settlement of Har Bracha, hundreds of settlers ran riot through Huwara and other nearby towns, leaving one Palestinian dead and several others badly injured, in what a top general labeled a “pogrom.” Six more suspects were arrested overnight Tuesday in connection with the incident.

In a statement, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, chair of Otzma Yehudit, slammed the attorney general for allowing the police investigation, claiming there was “one law for the right and one law for the left — clear proof for the necessity of the [judicial] reform.”

Cars burned by Jewish settlers during riots in Hawara, in the West Bank, near Nablus, February 27, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

Following the outrage over his comments, Fogel tweeted that his words had been “distorted,” without explaining how.

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid was quick to respond to the remarks, tweeting: “This isn’t a fully right-wing government [as its supporters have proudly called it]; it’s a full-blown anarchy government. MK Fogel should go to prison for incitement to terror.”

MK Mickey Levy of Lapid’s Yesh Atid party urged the coalition to oust Fogel from his role as head of the National Security Committee.

It is not the first time Fogel has made controversial remarks. In January, he called for the arrest of opposition leaders and two former MKs, accusing them of “treason against the state” and saying they “are the most dangerous people right now,” sparking widespread condemnation among the center-left and from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Michael Bachner contributed to this report.

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