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Police chief hugs Ben Gvir despite blaming him for 2021 riots

Far-right leader MK Itamar Ben Gvir and Israeli police chief Kobi Shabtai embrace and exchange words despite Shabtai accusing Otzma Yehudit leader of instigating the riots May 2021 intercommunity clashes that left several people dead, hundreds injured and property damage.

Shabtai and Ben Gvir meet at a United Hatzalah ceremony for the inauguration of a new ambulance, shake hands, hug and talk briefly after sitting next to each other during the ‘event.

Ben Gvir has demanded that he be named public security minister, a post with authority over the police, as part of ongoing coalition talks with Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

The police chief would serve under Ben Gvir if the latter were appointed public security minister in the next government.

In May 2021, during the Israel-Gaza conflict, Shabtai reportedly blamed Ben Gvir for deadly riots in mixed Jewish-Arab towns, citing the Otzma leader’s decision to set up an ad hoc office in the volatile Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, which sparked clashes with Palestinian residents shortly before widespread rioting broke out.

In one incident during the ensuing unrest, Ben Gvir called on activists to hold a protest in Ramle, one of the hotbeds of the riots.

Hundreds of extremist Jewish activists, many from out of town, showed up in Ramle and rioted, attacked Arab-driven vehicles and sought to enter an Arab neighborhood before being turned back by riot police.

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