As Ami Eshed, the head of the Tel Aviv District Police was fired on Thursday, a rift between Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir and Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai looks to be growing.
Shabtai said that he “made a mistake” in sanctioning the dismissal of Eshel from his position due to how he handled the ongoing demonstrations against the government’s proposed judicial changes during a press conference on Saturday.
Shabtai added that he had thought about leaving but ultimately opted to stay.
The Police Chief Forum demanded Shabtai’s resignation on Friday in response to criticism of his role in Eshed’s ouster.
On Shabtai’s recommendation, Eshed was promoted to the director of the police training department on Thursday.
The national security minister had initially sought to have Eshed fired.
The declaration was made during a day of widespread anti-government protests, including attempts to block Ben Gurion Airport, which required Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fly there.
According to reports, the minister demanded a more forceful response to the protests that have lasted for the past ten weeks, including action by the police to remove protesters who were obstructing Tel Aviv’s Ayalon motorway.
The decision to fire Eshed was then put on hold while Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara investigated the legality of the action.
Ben-Gvir said that Shabtai’s handling of the protests was influenced by extremist elements in Israeli society in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 that aired on Saturday.
“I am aware of the pressures on the police commissioner. He is under pressure from the radical left, and I hope he resists giving in. The police commissioner must put the minister’s strategy into practice because it is an Israeli government policy, according to Ben-Gvir.
Ben-Gvir stated during the interview that Baharav-Miara should not have become involved in the dismissal of Eshed because she was trying to usurp his ministerial duties.
Ben-Gvir said that he had aimed to keep Eshed in his position until after Ramadan, which starts at the end of March, rather than removing him immediately.