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Knesset Public Security Committee meets for first time

CM 13/09/2021

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The Public Security Knesset committee met on Monday morning for the first time, eight days after the Gilboa Prison escape.

The Knesset’s Public Security Committee was split from the broader Internal Affairs and Environment Committee in August, and is headed by MK Merav Ben-Ari (Yesh Atid).
Participants in the meeting included Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev, Israel Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai and Israel Prison Service head Katty Perry. While the meeting’s official title is “A review of the Public Security Minister on his office’s actions,” the participants are expected to comment and answer questions about the prison escape.
The meeting began with a decision to open a subcommittee for classified public security affairs. The subcommittee will be chaired by Ben-Ari and will include MK Meir Yitzhak Halevi (New Hope) and Ruth Wasserman Lande (Blue and White).
Bar Lev spoke first and presented his plan for the ministry. He began by commenting on the broad role the Public Security Ministry has in fighting the COVID crisis, as it is responsible to enforce the government’s decisions. He said that the fragile political situation and multiple elections made it extremely difficult for the ministry to function probably.
Bar Lev stressed the importance of the riots surrounding Operation Guardian of the Walls, and connected them to the issue of crime and gang violence in the Arab community.
“During the events of Operation Guardian of the Walls it became clear that crimes and violent events do not begin and end just with the criminal acts themselves since a parallel is created between these incidents and nationalistic incidents whose goal is to threaten the country’s very existence,” he said. 
“This was a strategic surprise for the Israel Police, the Shin Bet, the Israeli government and all of the Israeli citizens,” he said.
The meeting came as rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel for four days in a row, and as two of the escaped fugitives are still at large. Sunday also marked the anniversary of the completion of Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
Bar Lev announced on Friday that he would form a commission of inquiry into the escape. The inquiry, which Bar Lev said was approved by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, will be headed by a retired High Court judge pending government approval.
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai commented on the violence in the Arab community and attributed it to inequality, among other things.
Opposition MKs Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit), Amichai Chikli (Yamina), Orit Struck (Religious Zionist Party) and Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism) attacked him for referring to inequality, arguing that he was essentially condoning the violent riots.
Shabtai then answered and said, “What happened [in the May riots] was an intifada. The police managed to quell the uprising within four days with zero casualties.” He was again attacked vocally, as Joint List MKs Ahmad Tibi and Osama Saadi argued that there were indeed casualties who were Israeli Arab and that the commissioner was ignoring this, while Ben-Gvir and Chikli argued that the police did not act forcefully enough.
Israel Prison Service head Katty Perry spoke next.
She stressed that the service has experienced over 300 attempted escapes, as well as arson and rioting within jail walls.
This is a developing story.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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