Israeli PM appoints Ben-Gvir to lead taskforce to combat 'Palestinian incitement' online
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has tasked his national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to lead a special task force to fight against what he called "Palestinian incitement against the citizens of Israel."
The appointment comes during a period of tension between Palestinians and Israelis. On Wednesday, the Israeli army killed at least ten Palestinians and wounded one hundred more in Nablus, including two elderly men.
The task force, Netanyahu announced, will include investigators, the police and lawyers and will be in full coordination with the Israeli Ministry of Justice. In addition, elements from Israel's security service, the Shin Bet, the army and the National Cyber Headquarters will also work in this broad task force.
"To avoid doubt, the team led by the Minister of National Security will act against the Palestinian incitement against the citizens of Israel," Netanyahu emphasised.
VIDEO: Israeli colonial forces raid #Nablus today to target Palestinian armed resistance activists. At least 10 Palestinians were reported killed, and tens were injured, most of whom are civilians. Video by Activestills. pic.twitter.com/U21PStD6uO— Activestills (@activestills) February 22, 2023
The formation of the task force is still in the making. However, it drew criticism as it only targets "Palestinian incitement" and fails to mention death threats against Palestinians that come from several Israelis.
For instance, on Jerusalem Day, a notorious annual event where members of Israel's far-right hold rallies in occupied East Jerusalem to commemorate the so-called reunification of Jerusalem, utterances of "Death to Arabs" and "We want Nakba now" are the norm and go unpunished by the Israeli legal system.
Only last month, Jerusalem city council member Yoni Yossef showed up in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem with the Israeli flag draped over his shoulders and started to sing "We want Nakba Now." The Israeli police stood idle during the bizarre show.
Nakba or catastrophe is the Palestinian term for the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their lands by Jewish militias in 1948.
Yoni Yosef is the grandson of former Sephardi chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef, famous for racist remarks about persons who are not Jewish, Arabs and Muslims.
"Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel," said the late Rabbi during a weekly Saturday night sermon in 2010.
Goyim is a biblical Hebrew term which means nations and is often pejorative.
#Israel's PM tasks a minister convicted of inciting racism & terror-supporting as the head of a taskforce to "fight incitement on social media."— Muhammad Shehada (@muhammadshehad2) February 21, 2023
Netanyahu then rushes to make clear they will only look at "Palestinian incitement," & will do nothing about Israeli extremism! pic.twitter.com/5BQWaB45QN
Arab MK Aida Touma-Sulieman told The New Arab that the head of the government chose a man "convicted of incitement" to lead a unit to fight incitement.
"It shows that the PM understands the experience needed for the job of fighting incitement when he chose this official to lead the position," Touma-Sulieman said.
In 2008 Itamar Ben-Gvir was convicted in a Jerusalem court on racism charges, for supporting a terrorist organisation and for waving a sign that read "Arabs out" as well as having signs in his car that read "Either us or them" and "There is a solution – expel the Arab enemy."
Ben-Gvir is also pushing authorities to criminalise the possession of firecrackers often used by Palestinians against Israeli forces during protests. The far-right minister would like to see firecrackers considered detonation material punishable by law.
Since the start of the year, at least 60 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. In the same period, eleven Israelis, including one soldier and two children, were killed by Palestinians.