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Israel: Netanyahu reverses decision to sack defense minister

April 10, 2023

The two had been in disagreement over Defense Minister Yoav Gallant's call last month to halt the government's controversial judicial reform. Netanyahu cited an escalating security crisis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media during a press conference
Netanyahu vowed to restore calm and securityImage: Ohad Zwigenberg/AP/picture alliance

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he had reversed a decision on sacking Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

He cited the escalating security crisis in Israel as the reason for the change in tack.

Netanyahu said that he and Gallant had resolved their disagreement over the defense minister's call to halt the government's controversial judicial reform plan.

The announcement of the decision to dismiss Gallant previously sparked protests in Tel Aviv and other cities. Israel has also seen numerous demonstrations against Netanyahu's judicial overhaul, which critics said would have given the legislature too much power over the judiciary.

Gallant, a member of Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, had said that the controversial reform posed a threat to Israel's security and called for "dialogue."

Netanyahu vows to 'restore calm and security'

Tensions have mounted in Israel in recent weeks. Israeli police raided the Al-Aqsa mosque last week during predawn prayers, saying that "agitators" had barricaded themselves inside Islam's third holiest site.  

A day later, more than 30 rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel. Israel's army believed the attack was most likely carried out by Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules Gaza. Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by many of Israel's allies and has a presence in some parts of Lebanon.

In response, Israel bombed Gaza and southern Lebanon, saying it was targeting Hamas' "terror infrastructures."

"We will not allow the terrorist Hamas to establish itself in Lebanon," Netanyahu said on Monday. He pledged to "restore calm and security" in Israel.

Tensions in the West Bank

The Palestinian Health Ministry said on Monday that Israeli forces killed a Palestinian 15-year-old and wounded two other people  in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israel's army said it had carried out a raid in the Aqabat Jaber camp to arrest a "terror suspect."

Meanwhile, a hospital confirmed that a British-Israeli woman had died after she was seriously injured in a shooting in the West Bank on Friday. Her two daughters, aged 16 and 20, died after the car they were all traveling in came under fire. The family lived in the West Bank settlement of Efrat.

Further raising tensions, on Monday, several Israeli government ministers joined a march of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. 

Israeli settlers gather in the outpost of Eviatar in the West Bank
At least seven Cabinet ministers joined the rally in the West BankImage: Ariel Schalit/AP/picture alliance

The marchers, led by what the Associated Press (AP) news agency called "hard-line ultranationalist Jewish settlers," were calling for the government to officially approve an unauthorized Israeli settler outpost, Eviatar. The residents of Eviatar, in the northern West Bank, had been evacuated in 2021 and visits to the outpost were prohibited.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, the leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, joined the march and said that "the response to terror is to build" settlements.

sdi/fb (Reuters, AFP)