Gantz: Israel nearly doubles the number of nationalist incitements to crime

Israel has “nearly doubled” the number of indictments against people suspected of nationalist crimes in the past year, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Tuesday.

An Army Radio report on Monday stated that there has been a wave of crimes committed by Jewish settlers in the West Bank since the olive harvest season began in October with 67 incidents this year compared to 42 during last year’s harvest, an increase. 60%.

The crimes included uprooting and setting fire to olive trees, causing property damage in Palestinian villages and more.

“Throwing stones, uprooting trees and using violence is something that we will not accept,” he told the Haaretz Israel Democracy Conference. “Clear instructions have been given to fight for contact with the rioters, whoever they are.”

He said he will hold a series of meetings with relevant government bodies to discuss further actions to increase law enforcement and better cooperation from various agencies, including the IDF.

“There will be no tolerance for terrorism and trouble, by either side,” Gantz said, adding that “we must remember, however, that the vast majority of settlers in Judea and Samaria are regular and value-based people, like most Palestinians they are not terrorists. We will continue to strengthen and protect them and protect their rights. “

According to Gantz, strengthening the Palestinian Authority and allowing economic and civil measures at a level “that has not happened in years” is a policy in Israel’s interest.

“As Defense Minister, I work hard to allow a respectable life for the Palestinians, our neighbors. Therefore, I follow a policy of strengthening the Palestinian Authority and we are enabling economic and civic measures that have not occurred here for years.

“We do this primarily because they are human beings, but we also do it for our own interests: Israel does not want thousands of people to live in Judea and Samaria without identity documents, or to be deprived of a respectable livelihood. . We are doing this in conjunction with a fight against terrorism that the IDF and all security forces are leading in a determined and valuable way. “

Gantz made the comments a day after a report and Washington Post that the IDF has been increasing surveillance of Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron with a massive facial recognition database. Another Haaretz report said that the phones of six Palestinian human rights activists were hacked with NSO’s Pegasus spyware.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a meeting of the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on October 19, 2021 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL / FLASH90).

In October, Israel officially legalized the status of 4,000 Palestinians, mainly in the West Bank, after a decade-long freeze in which almost no such requests were authorized.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said 1,200 undocumented Palestinians would receive identity cards and a further 2,800 Palestinians registered as Gazans would receive a change of address that would allow them to live in the West Bank.

The defense minister also addressed the issue of incitement in Israeli society, warning that “the toxic atmosphere in the country is unacceptable.”

“We all have to face the fact that tapping the keyboard can be the halfway point to pulling the trigger,” he warned, adding that on a personal level he has had to change his phone every two months due to attacks from the left, not from the left. correct, since the formation of the coalition.

“Respect your opponent. Don’t incite one person against the other for political or personal reasons, ”he said. “The incitement is apparently aimed at political leaders, but it is even more dangerous as it seeps into the civilian area.”

“Most of the rightists in Israel are not violent and do not incite, as are most of the leftists. But I, personally, can attest that weeds exist in every corner of Israeli society. “

Pointing the finger at opposition leader and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gantz said that all leaders, including the opposition, have a responsibility to take care of Israeli society.

“When I hear the uproar and delegitimization that comes from the top down, I am mainly afraid of the life of citizens on the street, of the members of the Knesset or of the heads of associations who have no protection, or simply of the people who belong to some sect that someone believes is right to attack, just moments when someone does not understand that the line has been crossed into a dangerous act. Must end “.

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