Roni Bar-On 298.88.
(photo credit: Channel 99)
Interior Minister Roni Bar-On slammed local authority and municipalofficials on Monday for "fleeing" their towns during the month-long violence in the North.
The accusation, which was made during an appearance before the Knesset Interior Committee, sparked outrage in the committee after Bar-On hinted that the offenders in question came from Arab communities.
"Those people I am referring toâ€¦ I can say that in their towns, I saw no synagogues," said Bar-On.
The minister described how he toured the North during the early days of the violence and discovered "serious flaws" in certain towns.
"When I inquired as to where these flaws stemmed from, I was told that a large part of the town's management - both the elected political management but particularly the executive ranks - ran away," Bar-On said. "I will not name them to preserve their dignity."
Representatives from the North said they were outraged by Bar-On's comments, and one local municipality leader from Nahariya was thrown out of the committee room after he interrupted the minister by crying out that his accusations were "despicable."
"This man has a long history of condemning people," said MK Taleb a-Sanaa (Ra'am Ta'al). "His words are harsh and ignorant."
Bar-On has spurred controversy in the past with his harsh criticism of residents who fled the North during the month-long rocket attacks. Three weeks ago, during a tour of Kiryat Shmona, he called city workers who left the North "deserters" and said they should not expect to earn their salaries.
"The minister has shown inflexibility and ignorance of what people in the North facedâ€¦ his views are offensive," said a-Sanaa.
During the committee meeting, Bar-On was repeatedly asked to divert funds to local councils in the North to assist recovery efforts. The minister, who said that those funds were already being discussed in the Finance Committee, argued that the local councils' financial difficulties began years before the war.
"There are problems here that are masquerading as things they are not," said Bar-On.
MK Effi Eitam (NU-NRP) echoed Bar-On's criticism and said Arab municipalities were "pretending to be deprived." Eitam, whose son fought in Lebanon during the war, said he would not send his children to die for Arab municipalities who "were not loyal during the war."