Settlements Orit Strock on Monday attacked IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai and Shin Bet Chief Ronen Bar on Radio Kol Barama, over their public joint statement against the rioters in the West Bank.
"They issued a message about Jewish nationalist terrorism. Who are you, the Wagner Force (a mercenary organization that rebelled under the leadership of Russia )?" Strock said.
"You work for the government, you don't issue messages under the nose of the government as you please and as you see fit," Strock continued. "I greatly appreciate the Chief of Staff, the Commissioner and the head of the Shin Bet, but they are not the ones who are supposed to teach us morals nor to set norms, their job is to ensure security. Take care of security, please."
Struck said that she is against the rioting, during which Palestinian houses were set on fire and property in the villages was vandalized, but she said that "it is a shame and disgrace to call these events nationalist terrorism."
Former Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid responded to Strock's characterization. "A minister in Israel who compares the Chief of Staff, the Commissioner and the head of the Shin Bet to rebel mercenaries is not worthy and cannot sit in the Israeli government. Netanyahu must stop the madness and rein in his delusional, irresponsible ministers. The citizens of Israel owe their lives to Herזi Halevi, Kobi Shabtai and Ronen Bar, the heroes of Israel and Samaria," Lapid said.
The chairman of the National Unity Party, Benny Gantz called for Strock to be fired. "The comparison of the heads of the security arms to the Wagner force is a moral disgrace and an injury to the security of the state. Netanyahu should fire Orit Strock today. Every minute she serves as a minister in the government is a message of security lawlessness, a nod to anarchists and an attack on the IDF, the Shin Bet and the Israel Police. Condemnations must not be enough, the message must be in action. The time has come to put an end to the anarchy that the Israeli government is creating in the security of the state," he said.
Shortly after the interview, Struck apologized, saying that "the phrase 'Wagner power' is wrong, and I apologize for it. It entered the conversation due to its presence in the news discourse, but it is completely inappropriate. I ask for forgiveness. I do not retract my factual criticism, that the heads of our security systems, dedicated and worthy of appreciation as much as they are, should not be preachers of morality, but generators of security."
Strock is not the only one: In recent days, ministers in the government and Knesset members in the coalition have continued to repeat the claim that riots are not terrorism , contrary to the position of the heads of the security establishment.
In an interview Monday morning on Ynet radio, Knesset member Avihai Boaron of the Likud party said that the fear in which the settlers live is the cause to these riots. "The system does not give us a sense of security or insecurity, and this is the main issue," he claimed.
"Residents along Route 60 are exposed to hundreds of incidents of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails every month," Boaron, who lives in Binyamin, said. "The residents are in real distress and feel like sitting ducks in a shooting range, when a terrorist enters Hummus Eliyahu and starts a massacre - So people walk with fear in their hearts. I myself often don't fall sleep, we live in fear."
Boaron said that disturbances are not acceptable to him, but that it "explains where the phenomenon comes from." He claimed that "I oppose conduct contrary to the law, and whoever does not follow the law has the police to deal with him as part of the criminal justice system, but certainly not to declare him a nationalist terrorist. There is no nationalist terrorism here, we do not call the Druze in the north nationalist terrorists either. The Bedouins are not nationalist terrorists, nor the Kaplan (street in Tel Aviv) protest. Israeli citizens cannot be nationalist terrorists, but only break the law. As soon as you declare someone a nationalist terrorist, you point the weapon at him in the next campaign and they will shoot him from a plane. The IDF is supposed to protect Israel."
The rioting come "from a real distress of citizens who come and say, it can't be that they shoot at us, hurt us," he said. Just in the last three months, nine were murdered, three women of the Dee family, the Yaniv brothers, now four more murdered, it can't be. Young people come and say, 'They don't protect us, we will protect ourselves'. As a result, the IDF forces are starting to point their weapons at us. What's going on here? And the heads of the security establishment are not acting responsibly here."