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Israel’s Netanyahu, Ben-Gvir in open war over Gaza escalation

Against the backdrop of Gaza tensions and in the most serious dispute so far within the Netanyahu government, the Likud party and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir exchanged threats in the media.
A demonstrator looks at placards depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (L).

JERUSALEM — Disagreements between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, denied so far by both sides, are currently out in the open, raising questions over the stability of the partnership between the Likud and the far-right Jewish Power party.

The death in prison of security detainee Khader Adnan while on a hunger strike last Tuesday resulted in an escalation of violence along Israel’s border with Gaza. Over 100 rockets were fired at settlements surrounding the Gaza Strip, leaving three people injured. But the Islamic Jihad activist’s death was also responsible for the most vociferous unrest among the members of Netanyahu’s fractious coalition since it was first formed four months ago. 

Israel’s response to the rocket fire was relatively moderate. It consisted of tank fire and bombings of Gaza by Israeli aircraft. The fighting stopped in just 24 hours, but that was when Netanyahu came under fire from his own coalition partners, led by Ben-Gvir.

Over the last few weeks, Ben-Gvir had been complaining that he was being excluded from discussions about national security. He was outraged after the rocket attacks from Gaza once he learned that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a meeting with senior members of the defense to assess the current situation — and that they held these meetings without inviting him.

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