Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai was recorded saying last week that Arab-Palestinians in Israel “murder each other. It’s in their nature,” Channel 12 reported on Tuesday evening.
Israel Police Commissioner said is the “mentality” of Arabs to kill, in a phone call with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir that the latter leaked to the press. According to the anti-violence campaign group the Abraham Initiatives, 43 Arab citizens in Israel have been killed in violent incidents since the start of 2023.
Israel’s Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai (third from left) with the National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (Photo: Israeli National Security Ministry)
The comments were made during a conversation that the two men were having about the national guard that Ben Gvir is seeking to establish, ostensibly in part to combat record-high crime rates in Arab communities. Ben Gvir and Shabtai have been feuding intensely for over a week over the national guard, with the police commissioner warning against placing the nascent force under the authority of the far-right and racist minister. The decision to leak damning contents of their private conversation appeared to bring ties between the minister in charge of the police and the commissioner to a new low.
MK Ayman Odeh, who chairs the Hadash-Ta’al list, called for Shabtai to be fired over the comments. He also maintained that they were factually inaccurate. “The number of Arab-Palestinians killed in [criminal incidents in] Israel is seven times higher than the number of Palestinians killed [in criminal incidents] in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and Jordan,” Odeh tweeted. “This is not the nature of the Palestinians; it is the nature of the racist establishment. In any other country, a racist commissioner like Shabtai would be fired in an instant. Shabtai, resign!” he added.