Public Security Minister Omer Barlev on Monday revealed that he has 24-hour protection due to threats made against him by Jewish Israelis.
Barlev did not specify the nature of the threats or who made them, but the minister, a member of the center-left Labor Party, caused a storm earlier this month when he said he discussed “settler violence “with a visiting American diplomat. . Critics, including Barlev’s right-wing coalition partners, accused him of generalizing the actions of a few extremists to condemn an entire community.
“As of this morning I’m on 24/7 surveillance,” Barlev wrote on Twitter.
“Following my determined campaign against Arab crime families, I hoped that the time would not come when one of them threatened me personally. But this is not the case. I am not threatened by Arab criminals – I am threatened by Israeli Jews, ”wrote Barlev, whose ministry is responsible for the police.
Barlev’s initial remark about the settlers and the subsequent retreat of the right follows a noticeable increase in violent attacks by Israeli extremists against Palestinians compared to previous years.
Although no official figures have been released, the Shin Bet has reported a 50% increase in extremist Jewish attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank over the past year. Palestinian rights groups say attackers are rarely prosecuted, reporting that the vast majority of cases are cleared without charge.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had tacitly joined other members of the right-wing coalition and opposition lawmakers who criticized Barlev for the comments.
But Barlev fired back, saying his critics struggled to “look in the mirror” and that settler violence was becoming a problem on the international stage.
At the time, a man was arrested for allegedly making threats on Facebook against Barlev. The suspect, 27, wrote of Barlev: “I hope you get lynched, you traitor.”
Several coalition lawmakers have benefited from increased security in recent months, most of them right-wing lawmakers who have been accused of treason for teaming up with the left and the Arab Ra’am party.
Ra’am leader MK Mansour Abbas has also been threatened for joining the government coalition, with the Knesset guard ordering that he be provided with an element of security. Abbas made history earlier this year when he led his Islamist Ra’am in the coalition, which includes right-wing, centrist and left-wing parties.
Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana has also been entrusted with additional security in the face of threats as he pushes forward sweeping reforms of Israel’s religious services that are deeply unpopular with the country’s ultra-Orthodox community. Kahana, a member of Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party, is a strictly religious Orthodox Jew. He says his initiatives are aimed at strengthening Israel’s Jewish character.
Arab communities have seen an upsurge in violence in recent years, driven mainly, but not exclusively, by organized crime.
Arab Israelis blame the police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence, which includes family feuds, mafia wars and violence against women. The community has also suffered from decades of neglect.
Barlev pledged to fix the issue, which again made headlines on Sunday, when a woman was killed in a car bomb in an Arab neighborhood in Ramle. The incident is believed to be linked to warring criminal families in the mixed Judeo-Arab city.