National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir sarcastically referenced controversy surrounding comments he made about Arabs' rights being less important than his rights in a X (formerly Twitter) post about the demolition of Bedouin homes in the Negev on Tuesday.
"'Sorry' [N12 panelist] Mohammad Magadli, this is a right-wing government," wrote Ben-Gvir, attaching a photo of himself watching as a bulldozer demolished homes built without permits in a Bedouin village.
הבוקר בהריסת מבנים בלתי חוקיים בנגב. "סליחה" מוחמד מג'אדלה, זו ממשלת ימין. pic.twitter.com/KV8HQlf40z— איתמר בן גביר (@itamarbengvir) August 29, 2023
The tweet referenced comments Ben-Gvir made during an interview with N12 "My right, the right of my wife, of my children to move around on the roads in the West Bank is more important than the right to freedom of movement of the Arabs...I’m sorry Muhammed [Magadi]. That is the reality, that is the truth. My right to life precedes your freedom of movement."
The national security minister sparked outrage with his comments, with the US State Department condemning the comments as "racist rhetoric." Ben-Gvir and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later insisted that his comments were misquoted and that the minister intended that Israel had the right to restrict the freedom of movement in order to fight terrorist attacks.
Over 360 demolition orders issued for illegal Bedouin buildings earlier this year
Ben-Gvir and Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf published a joint statement earlier in the day stating that they had gone to watch residential buildings built illegally in Bedouin villages in the Negev being destroyed.
The illegally built structures were located in the Tel Arad area and east of Highway 80 using a new technological system.
The people who built the structures were given over three months to vacate the area and destroy the buildings before the state acted to demolish them buildings.
In February, the Israel Land Authority carried out the "Hawk of the South" operation, issuing over 360 demolition and evacuation orders.
Ben-Gvir congratulated the forces destroying the homes for their "holy work."
"Keep it up. It's important. I also know that this is minister Goldknopf's position, to restore deterrence, restore sanity, and restore governance," said Ben-Gvir.
The national security minister additionally called for administrative and judicial orders to be combined. "I completely agree that there should be regulation, but we will not allow a situation in which they take advantage of the fact that they can invade land because there is no regulation. I will continue accompanying the demolitions. I was there a week ago, I am still here today. I will continue to follow and come until the invaders realize that the owner of this country is here."
Goldknopf added, "In the first working meeting with the Israel Land Authority, I instructed them to act without compromises and concessions, to eradicate the phenomenon and to act decisively against the land thieves."
Hadash-Ta'al MK Ahmad Tibi responded with outrage to the joint statement, saying "Minister Goldknopf: Instead of dealing with visas for [convicted sex offender Eliezer] Berland and demolishing houses for the pursued population in the Negev, find solutions and planning as the housing minister responsible for the Israel Land Authority and deal with the residents. Tagging along after Ben-Gvir? Embarrassing."
Hadash-Ta'al MK Ofer Cassif responded as well, stating "The man who divides apartments without a permit and the convicted felon who lives in the "Givat Avot' abscess of terror came to celebrate the destruction of Arab homes while they set up illegal terrorist strongholds and prevent their evictions. Apartheid!"