Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai has ordered top police officers to no longer speak directly with Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, according to various local media reports on Monday,
“If he contacts you, turn him immediately to me,” Shabtai reportedly told the group of top officers.
The order came after Ben Gvir, or representatives from his office, called senior police officers directly to give them instructions regarding the handling of anti-judicial reform protests.
This morning, several Hebrew-language sites said Shabtai held a secret meeting with Lahav 433, Israel's version of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to discuss the situation with Ben Gvir.
Lahav 433 is a special police unit tasked with investigating national crimes and corruption, as well as crimes of murder or sexual assault, on occasion.
According to sources who spoke with the Israeli media, Shabtai said that Ben Gvir is harming the police force.
Several of the police chiefs reportedly told Shabtai that “Ben Gvir must not be allowed to continue to cause damage to the organization. He does not understand his role, he does not behave as the minister in charge.”
Shabtai and Ben Gvir have had a complicated relationship since the announcement that Ben Gvir was appointed to the position of national security minister.
Former Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishki also criticized Ben Gvir in an interview with Israel's Radio 103FM station earlier this morning.
“If the minister, who I am ashamed to call a minister, continues in his position, we are going to an abyss from which there is no turning back,” Aharonishki said.
While opponents of Ben Gvir have accused him of using the police as a political tool for his own purposes, his supporters claim he is simply trying to bring reforms to the police force, which has lost much of the Israeli public’s trust.
Apparently, the national security minister has supporters within the police force, such as Deputy Commissioner Maj.-Gen. David Bitan, who reportedly defended Ben Gvir.
“You are confused. There is a minister here that citizens have chosen. Citizens have chosen this government and we must implement the policy of the government. I am also really happy that someone brought us 9 billion shekels,” Bitan reportedly said at the meeting, referring to Ben Gvir who successfully demanded the police budget be increased upon entering office.
A Channel 13 news opinion poll found that 50% of poll respondents agreed with the statement that Netanyahu should fire Ben Gvir, while only 40% were opposed.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.