Zehava Galon: IDF must restrain soldiers, settlers from attacking Palestinians

Israel's security establishment must act in a stronger manner against violent Jewish settlers, Galon claimed in a Shabbatarbut event.

 Police evacuate Settlers of the Nachala Settlement Movement from an open field near Kiryat Arba, after trying to establish illegal outposts in Judea and Samaria, July 20, 2022 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Police evacuate Settlers of the Nachala Settlement Movement from an open field near Kiryat Arba, after trying to establish illegal outposts in Judea and Samaria, July 20, 2022
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Jewish settler violence is to blame for increased terror activities and rising tensions across Jerusalem and the West Bank, Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon claimed in a Shabbatarbut event in Petach Tikva.

Galon added that the IDF is "securing convoys of settlers who come [to the West Bank] to provoke Palestinians...they beat them, the settlers are extremely violent toward Palestinians."

Israel's security establishment must act in a stronger manner against the settlers, she lamented. She further called for Defense Minister Benny Gantz to "restrain and moderate" IDF soldiers operating in the West Bank.

"The whole area would  escalate if Israeli forces were to enter Jenin now," Galon warned.

 Zehava Galon, former head of the Meretz Party (credit: FLASH90) Zehava Galon, former head of the Meretz Party (credit: FLASH90)

Benny Gantz: IDF has my full backing

Gantz responded to Galon's comments later on Saturday, writing on Twitter that the current sensitive security situation required elected officials to be responsible.

"This is true for open fire rules, which are set only by the IDF chief of staff and his commanders, without any political involvement," the defense minister stressed. 

"Amid a complicated reality on the ground, IDF soldiers and commanders have my full backing to carry out their mission to protect Israeli civilians," Gantz added.

"Amid a complicated reality on the ground, IDF soldiers and commanders have my full backing to carry out their mission to protect Israeli civilians"

Defense Minister Benny Gantz

On the other hand, Galon admitted during the Saturday event, there is an "awakening of unorganized Palestinian youth which is causing terrible violence in Jenin and Nablus."

The Meretz head noted that there is a "ludicrous" rise in the number of Palestinians killed over the last 12 months, calling to "end the bloodshed, as we are also paying the price in blood."

Galon: 'Bully' Ben-Gvir wants to start a religious war

During the event, Galon also hit out at far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir (Religious Zionists Party) for his involvement in altercations in Jerusalem during a strenuous period for Israel's security forces in the capital and the West Bank.

Ben-Gvir was involved in clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in east Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah earlier this week. During the confrontations, the Otzma Yehudit head brandished a gun.

 Itamar Ben Gvir brandishes a gun as rioters pelt him with stones, October 13th, 2022. (credit: screenshot) Itamar Ben Gvir brandishes a gun as rioters pelt him with stones, October 13th, 2022. (credit: screenshot)

According to Galon, Ben-Gvir, a "bully and a provocateur," made it his mission to "start a religious conflict in Jerusalem, particularly in Arab neighborhoods all the way to Temple Mount."

"[Ben-Gvir] is willing to pay for his campaign photo-ops with Jewish and Arab blood," Galon claimed.  The Meretz head added that Ben-Gvir was accompanied by hilltop "rioters" who "should be declared as a terror organization."

She further called for the defense minister to remove Ben-Gvir's immunity as an MK for "inciting violence and terror."