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Ben Gvir accused of racism for stating ‘Jewish lives more important than Arab free movement’

He also warned of Arab crime spilling over to broader society

Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir and Police Commander Yoram Sofer present a new proposal to eradicate crime in the Arab sector, in Jerusalem, August 17, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir made several controversial statements during media interviews on Wednesday evening, some of which were characterized as racist by some journalists and Arab politicians.

Amid an unprecedented wave of crime and murder in the Israeli Arab society and a rise in Palestinian terror, the Ben Gvir was questioned about what critics call his 'failures' to deal with the issue.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 news, the national security minister once again criticized Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s policy against Palestinian terror as being too lax.

Ben Gvir demanded harsher measures, including the targeted killings of terror leaders and an increase of roadblocks and checkpoints on the streets of Judea and Samaria.

“My right, and my wife’s and my children’s right, to get around on the roads in Judea and Samaria is more important than the right to movement for Arabs,” Ben Gvir added.

“That’s the reality. That’s the truth. My right to life comes before their right to movement,” he clarified.

Knesset member Ahmad Tibi later posted a video of Ben Gvir's statement to his Twitter account but left out the the clarification, thus accusing the national security minister of admitting “on air, that Israel enforces an apartheid regime based on Jewish supremacy.”

In the same interview with Channel 12 news, Ben Gvir described the danger of crime in the Arab sector and the threat it poses to the broader Israeli society.

“There are complete militias on the Arab street, dozens of thousands of weapons, explosive charges, grenade launchers, you don’t understand what’s happening.”

In a separate interview with the Kan news outlet on Wednesday, Ben Gvir was asked a similar question about what he described to be “an existential threat.”

“It’s not just the over 150 people killed, may their memory be a blessing, we have a bigger threat,” he said, referring to the groups he calls Arab “militias.”

“Crime in the Arab sector could very well spill over into the Jewish sector, the State of Israel. They have [all kinds of] weapons that could all be directed at us upon command,” he said.

The Kan interviewer then insinuated that Ben Gvir only saw Arab crime to be important when it negatively impacts Jews.

“Is it only because it could spill over to our society, the Jewish society? I don’t think that there is a difference that has to be made here, we need to stop with this talk of ‘Jewish society,’ and ‘Arab society,’ is only important now because of this?” she asked.

Ben Gvir replied: “It's important… and I’m telling you one thing, it’s turning from a criminal problem into an existential threat against the State of Israel.”

In both interviews, the Israeli national security minister blamed the current situation on years of neglect by politicians and the police.

He claimed that the growing distribution of weapons and ammunition among Arab criminal gangs was due to the Israel Police being underfunded and understaffed at the time he became the minister of National Security in December 2022.

Defending his own record as minister, Ben Gvir counted among his successes: a bigger police budget; higher salaries; the hiring of more officers; and the establishment of his controversial National Guard, intended to fight local crime.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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