Ben Gvir said mulling alternative to his nominee for top cop

State prosecutor seeking probe of Ben Gvir for anti-Gazan incitement — report

Move said aimed at pacifying ICJ by showing Israel is prosecuting individuals for inflammatory comments amid war with Hamas; far-right minister: ‘Deep state’ trying to undermine me

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir arrives for a court hearing in the defamation lawsuit filed against him by former MK Stav Shafir, at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem, July 2, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir arrives for a court hearing in the defamation lawsuit filed against him by former MK Stav Shafir, at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem, July 2, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

State Prosecutor Amit Aisman has reportedly asked Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara for permission to open a criminal investigation into National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir for allegedly inciting violence against residents of Gaza, in an attempt to satisfy the International Court of Justice that it is holding Israeli officials to account for such remarks.

None of the officials involved believe an investigation would result in an indictment, much less a conviction, especially in light of Ben Gvir’s parliamentary immunity, the Kan public broadcaster reported Tuesday.

Rather the move is designed to show the International Court of Justice, where South Africa has alleged Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza, that Israel is complying with its orders to investigate and punish anyone who violates the clause of the Genocide Convention prohibiting incitement to genocide.

Israel adopted the Genocide Convention into law in its 1950 Law for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, which includes the prohibition on incitement to genocide.

Ben Gvir has made several inflammatory comments about the Gazan population since the Hamas-led October 7 onslaught that started the war, including a remark in November that “When we say that Hamas should be destroyed, it also means those who celebrate, those who support, and those who hand out candy — they’re all terrorists, and they should also be destroyed.”

This comment, as well as remarks by Ben Gvir demanding the cessation of humanitarian aid to Gaza, was cited by South Africa in its various filings to the ICJ.

According to Kan, officials close to Aisman said the launch of the probe investigation was not likely to matter much at the ICJ, and could end up causing damage to Israel’s reputation.

State Prosecutor Amit Aisman at the Israel Bar Association’s annual conference in Tel Aviv, September 4, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Attorney General’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office issued a joint statement in response to the saying that a decision has yet to be made as to whether to open an investigation into Ben Gvir, but that it is examining all comments which may have violated Israeli criminal law.

In his response, Ben Gvir called the probe a sham, part of a judicial “deep state” attempting to undermine him, and took a fresh shot at the Shin Bet as well.

“Unbelievable! The state prosecutor is trying to make an Israeli minister stand trial for ‘incitement’ against citizens of an enemy state that danced on the blood of our soldiers on the streets of Gaza on October 7,” the statement read. “Instead of the Shin Bet and the state prosecutor carrying out assassinations in Gaza, they are trying to assassinate an Israeli minister. It won’t succeed.”

In December, South Africa brought a case against Israel in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, accusing the country of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Dozens of countries have expressed support for the case, and a number of countries have formally joined the proceedings.

The court has issued several preliminary orders in the case, including an ambiguous order in May that was widely but not unanimously interpreted to enjoin Israel from invading the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Israel has vociferously rejected the genocide allegation and the premise of the ICJ case. It has argued that the ongoing offensive in Gaza is targeted at eliminating Hamas and returning the hostages taken by the terror group on October 7, and has highlighted steps to ensure civilian casualties are minimized while charging that such casualties are the result of the terror group’s use of civilian infrastructure to carry out attacks.

Separately Tuesday, Channel 12 news reported that Ben Gvir may consider a police official with a reputation for trying to tamp down on anti-government protests to be the next police commissioner if his nominee, Avshalom Peled, is rejected.

The first preference has drawn scrutiny due to Ben Gvir’s history with Peled and a reported criminal probe involving the officer.

Police Deputy Commissioner Avshalom Peled. (Courtesy)

Danny Levi, the top police commander for the coastal region, has been accused of putting in place regulations aimed at keeping protesters in Caesarea from being able to gather anywhere near Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home or to use megaphones or other noisemakers, which are tolerated in other parts of the country.

The Senior Appointments Advisory Committee, the panel that vets the appointments to some of the country’s key civil service positions, is set to discuss Peled’s candidacy on Thursday.

In response to the report, Ben Gvir’s office said it believed Peled would be appointed and that it would not address “speculation.”

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