The rift between Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai surrounding Thursday’s removal from office of Tel Aviv District Police chief Ami Eshed appears to be deepening.

In a press conference on Saturday, Shabtai announced that he “made a mistake” in approving the removal of Eshed from his post over his handling of the ongoing protests against the government’s planned judicial reforms. Shabtai also indicated that he had considered resigning but decided to stay.

On Friday, the Police Chief Forum slammed Shabtai’s involvement in the removal of Eshed and called for his resignation.

On Thursday, Ben-Gvir announced Eshed’s demotion, on Shabtai’s recommendation, to the head of the police training department; the national security minister had initially sought to have Eshed dismissed. The announcement was made during another day of mass demonstrations against the government that included attempts at disrupting Ben Gurion Airport, which forced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to travel to the airport by helicopter.

The minister reportedly wanted a stronger response to the protests over the past 10 weeks, including in efforts by police to clear demonstrators from blocking the Ayalon freeway in Tel Aviv.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara subsequently froze the decision to remove Eshed, pending an examination of the legality of the decision.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 that aired on Saturday, Ben-Gvir suggested that Shabtai was under the influence of radical elements in Israeli society with regard to his management of the protests.

“I know the police commissioner is under several types of pressure. The radical left is pressuring him, and I hope he doesn’t surrender. There is a policy of the Israeli government, and the police commissioner needs to implement the minister’s policy,” said Ben-Gvir.

During the interview, Ben-Gvir also indicated that Baharav-Miara should not have intervened in Eshed’s dismissal, saying that she was attempting to usurp the responsibilities of his ministerial position.

Ben-Gvir also said that it had not been his intention to remove Eshed immediately from his post, but rather to have him stay until after the month of Ramadan, which begins toward the end of March.


Jewish News Syndicate

With geographic, political and social divides growing wider, high-quality reporting and informed analysis are more important than ever to keep people connected.

Our ability to cover the most important issues in Israel and throughout the Jewish world—without the standard media bias—depends on the support of committed readers.

If you appreciate the value of our news service and recognize how JNS stands out among the competition, please click on the link and make a one-time or monthly contribution.

We appreciate your support.