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Israel Police open probe into lawmaker for incitement over Huwara comments

Otzma Yehudit Knesset member Zvika Fogel made incendiary remarks after Jews rioted in the village near Nablus.

Zvika Fogel, a day before being sworn in as a member of Knesset, Nov. 14, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90,
Zvika Fogel, a day before being sworn in as a member of Knesset, Nov. 14, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90,

The Israel Police has opened an investigation into the actions of Otzma Yehudit Knesset member Zvika Fogel, two weeks after the attorney general gave the green light for a probe of suspicions of inciting terrorism.

Fogel was set to appear for questioning on Tuesday before Lahav 433, a unit within the Israel Police known as the “Israeli FBI.” It was established in 2008 and is tasked with investigating national crimes and corruption.

The politician is suspected of inciting violence after a riot by Israeli Jews in the Palestinian village of Huwara, following a terrorist attack there by one of its residents.

On Feb. 26, Israeli brothers Hallel Menachem and Yagel Yaakov Yaniv were shot dead in Huwara. Later that night, a few hundred Jews rioted in the town with some setting fire to Palestinian property and engaging in clashes with local Arabs. One Palestinian was reportedly killed during a riot in a nearby town that occurred at the same time.

“Yesterday a terrorist came from Huwara? Huwara is closed and burned. That’s what I want to see. Only thus can we obtain deterrence,” Fogel said on Radio Galey Israel on Feb. 27.

“The act that the residents of Judea and Samaria carried out yesterday is the strongest deterrent that the State of Israel has had since [the IDF’s] Operation Defensive Shield [in 2002]. After a murder like yesterday, villages should burn when the IDF does not act,” he continued.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, the leader of the Otzma Yehudit Party, defended Fogel and criticized Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara for what he said were her biased actions against those on the right.

“The attorney general’s harassment of Otzma Yehudit members and the right is continuing,” Ben-Gvir said in a statement.

He asked why Baharav-Miara wasn’t calling for investigations into left-wing politicians such as former prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, who he said have “preached rebellion against the government” over its judicial reform plans and “called for war in the streets.”

Added Ben-Gvir: “This is an attorney general who, instead of serving the elected government, is trying to hinder and harass it. This isn’t a ‘gatekeeper’; this is an official who discriminates and acts in service of the opposition.”

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