(Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, Ronen Bar, held a recent meeting with Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and reportedly warned him that his actions across occupied east Jerusalem have been ‘inciting violence’ which could lead to a significant ‘flare-up.’
“Your activity is creating a feeling of collective harassment. This is agitating [East] Jerusalem and may cause a broad flare-up at this sensitive time,” the Shin Bet chief was quoted by Israel’s Channel 13 to have told Ben Gvir.
According to the Hebrew report, the controversial minister ‘dismissed’ Bar’s warning and criticized his methods for failing to achieve security.
The report adds that Bar’s meeting with Ben Gvir was highly unconventional, as the Shin Bet security service falls under the jurisdiction of the prime minister’s office, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have had to approve the meeting.
The Shin Bet told the Israeli news outlet in a statement that it does not comment on meetings between its leadership and government officials.
A statement by Ben Gvir also declined to comment on the meeting, but said: “For years we have not touched East Jerusalem, and it explodes in our faces … It is time to enforce the law in East Jerusalem as well. Governance and sovereignty will make it clear to the terrorists that Israel is in charge.”
According to Israeli media, Ben Gvir’s actions have “disrupted” the lives of 10,000 east Jerusalem residents. At least 100 Palestinians have been detained, and seven buildings have been demolished. Times of Israel reported that Ben Gvir had been planning to demolish even more buildings, but was held back by Netanyahu.
The security minister has vowed to take a stronger position against Palestinian homes built without permits. Israel regularly demolishes homes and residential buildings under this pretext, despite the fact that they have made it almost impossible for Palestinians to acquire building permits. Additionally, Israeli media has itself revealed that Tel Aviv rejects over 98 percent of Palestinian building permit requests in the West Bank.
Since assuming the role of national security minister, Ben Gvir has continued to promote and take part in provocative incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque, has issued policies stripping Palestinian prisoners of what little rights they already had, and has been pushing for a significant boost in gun ownership permits for Israelis to use against Palestinians.
Over the past few days, Israel has stepped up its highly frequent and violent raids. This comes as part of a recently announced, large scale Israeli offensive across occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank, which Ben Gvir ordered on 10 February in order to ‘root out terror.’
The minister’s actions have greatly contributed to the unprecedented tensions across Palestine. Last year, Ben Gvir’s home in the Kiryat Arba settlement was the target of a Palestinian resistance operation. The minister, who was just an MK at the time, was not home when the shooting occurred.