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Israeli defense minister refuses Ben-Gvir phone call

National security minister raising questions about administrative detention of Jewish suspects in Huwara riot.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (center) speaks with National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir after a vote at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Feb. 15, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (center) speaks with National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir after a vote at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Feb. 15, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Friday declined to answer a phone call from National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

The conversation was going to be about two Jewish suspects being held in administrative detention following last Sunday night’s riot in Huwara, south of Nablus, public broadcaster Kan News reported.

Ben-Gvir wanted to ask Gallant why David Chai Chasdai, 29, and a 17-year-old minor were ordered held without charge for a period of four months, until July 1. They are accused of taking part in a riot in Huwara in response to the shooting attack earlier in the day that killed brothers Hallel Menachem Yaniv and Yagel Yaakov Yaniv.

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) recommended that Gallant keep the two suspects in administrative detention. Thus, they are being held despite the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court’s having ordered their release along with six other suspects for lack of evidence.

After Gallant rejected his phone call, Ben-Gvir turned to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ask why the pair is being held.

Gallant, according to the Kan report, had told Ben-Gvir that he would not talk to him due to three previous conversations being leaked to the press. Gallant’s spokesperson confirmed the report.

Ben-Gvir criticized Gallant for ignoring his call, accusing him of not being aligned with the direction of the right-wing coalition Netanyahu cobbled together after November’s election.

“Gallant conducts an independent policy within the right-wing government, but he forgets that he was elected by the votes of the right and not by the votes of the left,” Ben-Gvir said.

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