Tempers Flare In Israeli Cabinet Over Jenin Mosque Desecration

Far-right Israeli politician Itamar Ben-Gvir being forcefully evicted from the Knesset. (Photo: video grab)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Tensions have reportedly flared in the Israeli cabinet as “the issue arose of soldiers taking control of a loudspeaker system” in a mosque in Jenin a few days ago.

Footage emerged last Thursday of Israeli soldiers desecrating a mosque following a raid into the northern West Bank city and its nearby refugee camp, drawing international outrage.

The Israeli army announced the removal of two soldiers from active duty, following the incident, adding that disciplinary action is being taken.

The Anadolu news agency reports that according to Israeli Channel 12, the far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir reportedly criticized the decision at the weekly cabinet meeting on Monday as “disgraceful.”

The channel quoted Ben-Gvir as saying: “How is this possible? You’ve turned a minor incident into a major one, making headlines that harm the soldiers.” 

Eliezer Toledano, the southern regional commander in the Israeli army, responded: “This is solely our responsibility and authority only.” Ben-Gvir reportedly shot back: “Yes, yes, we’ve already heard about your authority and responsibility.”

Anadolu further reports that during the meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu then intervened, saying: “Enough, we’ve got the answer.”

‘Don’t Threaten Me’

But after Netanyahu left the room, the debate flared up again, the report continues. Ben-Gvir remarked: “Woe to you if they (the soldiers) are dismissed.” Army chief Halevi reportedly then shouted: “Don’t threaten me. I will decide what values guide the Israeli army.”

Ben-Gvir replied, according to the channel: “I’m not threatening you; as a government member, I will criticize this move.”

Then, Israeli Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton reportedly told Ben-Gvir: “Stop criticizing them all the time.” He reportedly responded: “I’m permitted to criticize when soldiers are in harm’s way; it’s my duty.”

In the incriminating footage, Israeli soldiers were seen walking around the place of worship in their boots, singing Jewish hymns using the loudspeakers, and thus broadcasting it to thousands of Palestinians in the city and the adjacent areas. 

Mockingly, the soldier declared, “In the name of God, the merciful. Here is the spokesperson of the IDF.”

Gallant Defends Army Chief

Following the cabinet confrontation, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Tuesday on X that “The state of Israel and the Israeli army have gained a brave and ethical chief of General Staff with experience during a difficult and complex war.”

He added: “The Israeli army will continue to act decisively, in accordance with the value compass grounded in Israeli traditions, law, and the spirit of the Israeli army.”

Apparently referring to Ben-Gvir, Anadolu reports, he continued: “I will continue to support the Israeli army and the chief of General Staff against irresponsible politicians who try to score political points at the expense of leaders who bear the brunt of the war.”

In response, Ben-Gvir posted on X: “Yoav, we also have brave and daring soldiers who sacrifice everything to make unequivocal decisions in war.”

He reportedly continued: “If we learned anything from October 7, it is that passing objective criticism to the high command is allowed, desirable, and necessary, especially when it concerns outstanding soldiers.”

Ben-Gvir, the leader of the Oztma Yehudit (Jewish Power) Party, has been Israel’s security minister for nearly a year now. He had a long track record of racism against Palestinians prior to becoming one of the most powerful men in Israeli politics.

(PC, Anadolu)

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