During a meeting of high-level security officials on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized: "We are losing legitimacy in the international community and cannot allow it. We need to act against it."
His comments came during a last-minute meeting convened by Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, attended by Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar and other security officials, to discuss the topic of the settler riots in the West Bank, The meeting ended without any decisions.
Ben-Gvir protested what he said was the growing preoccupation with the Jewish riots, which the security establishment has defined as nationalist terrorism. He said that "the highlight is today's apology talks with the Palestinian Authority," referring to calls by President Isaac Herzog to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and by Gallant to PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh. "A convicted terrorist who spent 10 years in prison, and we call to apologize to him and pet him? Do we need to apologize to those who pay salaries to terrorists?" Ben-Gvir also said.
Gallant, who spoke with Sheikh following the riots and apologized for them, replied angrily to Ben-Gvir: "We cannot behave like our enemies. You cannot say 'the Arabs do it, so we are allowed too.'"
During the discussion, the representatives of the defense establishment sharply attacked the words of Settlements Minister Orit Strock, who compared the heads of the defense establishment to the Wagner Group in Russia, that came close to a staging a coup in Russia. They said that even though Strock apologized, her words have caused great damage and has led to where senior IDF commanders and soldiers facing violent harassment by Jewish Israelis.
"The statements against IDF soldiers are many times more serious than the condemnations of the statements - which are not enough," IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi emphasized.
Gallant quoted the words of the head of the Shin Bet in a closed conversation, in which he said: "This is an attack not on who is Jewish, but what is Jewish." Gallant also suggested that the government condemn, in an official statement signed by all ministers, violence or delegitimization of IDF soldiers and officers.
"There is a direct risk to the settlers in the face of Palestinian revenge attacks that force us to divert forces from thwarting attacks. There is a real fear of Palestinians being harmed by (Jewish) rioters who enter the villages, as has already happened in the past. We are afraid of lynching the Jews," Bar said.
During Tuesday night's discussion, all the heads of the security establishment said that everything possible should be done to prevent attacks and delegitimization against IDF activities in the West Bank and to condemn the violence of the extremists against the Palestinians. They told Ben-Gvir that any statement like Stock's is serious. "Condemnations do not have the same effect as the statements themselves," they reportedly said, and that "the actions we are seeing in recent days are being done because of vindictiveness from the ministers, and condemnations and apologies have no effect."
Ben-Gvir, for his part, said: "You know perfectly well that I oppose the behavior toward the Brigadier General, and we have seen that the entire right opposes it, but let's not tell ourselves stories. For a whole week I asked to call a discussion in the Cabinet about four murdered people and there was no response until they yelled at the brigadier general, which is wrong of course, and within a day we are here in an urgent discussion."
"I've been hearing for a week now from the heads of the security establishment about the 'severe violence of the settlers' and that we must not surrender and fold before them, but I ask - where has that determination disappeared when it comes to some of the Druze, what, when they shoot and suddenly attack, is it permissible to surrender?" Ben-Gvir said, referring to protests in the north by the Druze community against the construction of a wind turbine in the Golan.
"And where did the same determination disappear in the face of the anarchists who set fire to tires in front of the Ministry of Justice this morning? Why are they waiting? For them to burn down his house? Why is there no urgent discussion on this matter with the head of the Shin Bet and the Commissioner? And why is the Shin Bet investigating the hilltop youth who were involved in property crimes and issues administrative arrests against them, but in crime and murder in Arab society the Shin Bet refuses to investigate and make administrative arrests?" Ben Gvir also protested.
"I constantly hear the talk about Turmus Aya and Ateret, and of course I oppose the actions that were done there, but let's be creative," he added. "Those who are murdered here are the settlers and the terrorism that needs to be eradicated is in Jenin, not in Ateret."
After the deadly shooting attack in Eli , hundreds of West Bank settlers staged violent riots, setting fire to houses, cars and fields and throwing stones at Palestinians. On Monday, rioters burned agricultural crops in an area of six dunams in the village of Turmus Aya in the West Bank. On Saturday, dozens of settlers confronted Palestinians near the village of Umm Safa north of Ramallah and threw rocks. A few minutes later, dozens of settlers entered the village, burned at least two houses and set fire to two vehicles and a truck belonging to the Palestinians.
Gallant on Tuesday morning in his conversation with Sheikh said of the violent riots in Palestinian villages that the security establishment "takes a serious view of the violence used by extremist elements against Palestinian citizens." He emphasized during the conversation that "the State of Israel will work to bring the offenders to justice."
Herzog in his conversation with Abbas emphasized the importance of the decisive and vigorous fight against terrorism, incitement and hatred, and emphasized the terrible cost and pain that terrorism exacts from the bereaved families and from Israeli society as a whole.