National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called young settlers who torched a number of Palestinian villages after a deadly terrorist attack in Eli last week "sweet boys," during a meeting on Tuesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, according to Israeli reports.
"Most of them are sweet boys," said Ben-Gvir. "Administrative arrests turn people into heroes. I was the subject of an administrative arrest when I was 18. You're turning snot-nosed boys into heroes."
"Why does the Shin Bet investigate hilltop youth who were involved in property crimes and issue administrative arrests to them, but in crime and murder in Arab society the Shin Bet refuses to investigate and arrest them with administrative arrests?" questioned Ben-Gvir.
The minister additionally rejected complaints about settler riots in Turmus Aya and other Palestinian villages, stressing that "those who are murdered here are the settlers and the terrorism that needs to be eradicated is in Jenin, not in Ateret."
"The highlight is today's apology talks to the Palestinian Authority," added Ben-Gvir. "A convicted terrorist who spent 10 years in prison, and we call to apologize to him and pet him? Those who pay salaries to terrorists, should we apologize to them?"
Ben-Gvir additionally complained that a cabinet meeting was only being called after attacks against IDF commanders and not when he called for one after the attack in Eli.
Ben-Gvir compares riots to Druze, anti-reform protests
The minister pointed to Druze protests in the Golan Heights and anti-judicial reform protests in front of Justice Minister Yariv Levin's home in Modi'in, questioning why the defense establishment wasn't acting more strongly in those cases.
"Where did that determination disappear against the anarchists who set fire to tires this morning in front of the justice minister? What are you waiting for, that they will burn his house down? Why is there no urgent discussion on this matter with the head of the Shin Bet and the police chief?"
During the meeting, the head of the Shin Bet warned of a direct threat to settlers conducting violence in Palestinian villages, stressing that they may be targeted by revenge attacks while entering the villages.
After four Israelis were murdered by two Hamas terrorists near Eli last week, settlers entered the Palestinian villages of Turmus Aiya, Urif and Luban e-Sharkiya, torching dozens of homes and vehicles and attacking local residents. Israeli forces worked to extinguish the fires and disperse the riots.
Right-wing politicians have downplayed the violence, with some comparing the violence to anti-judicial reform protests and protests by Druze Israelis against the construction of wind turbines in the Golan Heights.
Last week, Religious Zionist Party MK Simcha Rothman stated "Those who support the protests but oppose the riots are hypocritical."
"Stop this posing immediately. As soon as you protest against the reform, you are allowed to call for arms and be violent, but if you are protesting about a petty and small matter that four people were murdered - then it's wrong?" Rothman said to Army Radio.
Additionally, Finance Minister and Religious Zionist Party chairman MK Bezalel Smotrich claimed that the torching of Palestinian villages last week was not terrorism and should be treated as civil crime.