Israel’s police chief is facing calls to be sacked after he was heard saying the country’s Arabs have a murderous ‘nature’ in a leaked recording.
Israeli Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai reportedly made the racist remark during a private meeting with far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir last week.
During the meeting, Mr Ben Gvir sought to understand the record crime rates in Arab communities across the country and said they needed a strong national guard to tackle the problem.
“One murder after another. He crossed all lines. We need a strong national guard,” Ben Gvir said in the transcript of their conversation leaked by Channel 12 on Tuesday.
The police chief replied, “Mr. Minister, there is nothing to be done. They kill each other. It is their nature. This is the mentality of the Arabs.
The leaked conversation comes amid a growing dispute between the two after the Israeli government approved the formation of a national guard that would operate under Mr Ben Gvir’s ministry.
However, opponents, including the police chief and opposition party leaders, have warned against it, saying it will operate as a “private militia” of Mr Ben Gvir, leader of the extreme party. right Jewish Power.
The controversial leader who was given the portfolio of national security minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet was convicted in 2007 of racist incitement against Arabs and support for a group considered by Israel and the United States to be an organization terrorist.
He has been charged more than 50 times with inciting violence or hate speech.
The police chief’s office said the remarks were taken out of context from a private conversation and expressed shock that the conversation was leaked.
However, the statement did not seek to recant or apologize for Mr. Shabtai’s comments.
“The police are shocked that the minister and his office are recording personal conversations between the minister and the leader, and are outraged that things were taken out of context in a conversation that dealt with patterns of behavior in Arab society that do not reveal not the identity of the murderers even when known to the relatives of the victims,” the statement said.
“This behavior calls into question the ability of the police to report to the minister without fear of disclosure of sources and distortion of conversations,” police said.
The comments sparked outrage, with members of opposition parties calling for Mr Shabtai to resign.
Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List party, said: “The number of Palestinians killed in [criminal incidents in] Israel is seven times higher than the number of Palestinians killed [in criminal incidents] in the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.
“It’s not the nature of the Palestinians, it’s the nature of the racist establishment,” he said, adding that “the racist commissioner like Shabtai” should be fired.
Mansour Abbas, deputy speaker of the Knesset and chairman of the Joint (Arab) List, said the commissioner should apologize and retract his “lewd remarks about Arab society” and that the prime minister should condemn the remarks.
“I expect the police commissioner to withdraw his lewd comments about Arab society and either apologize to the Arab public or resign from his position,” he said.
Joint (Arab) List lawmaker Waleed Alhwashla said Mr Shabtai is “descending into the abyss of racism and prejudice, and that without considering that the statement, in and of itself, is a form of embezzlement.”
The controversial comments against Palestinians come amid a growing wave of violence in the country between Israeli police forces and young Palestinians, sparking a confrontation with militants in Gaza.
Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City early Wednesday as Muslims celebrated the holiday month of Ramadan and Jews prepared to begin the Passover holiday.
Around 14 people were injured after police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets following a pre-dawn raid. The clashes prompted Hamas to fire nine rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, setting off warning sirens near Sderot.