(JNS) Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Sunday directed police to enforce an existing ban on the flying of Palestinian flags to identify with terrorist groups.
“We will fight terrorism and the encouragement of terrorism with all our might,” Ben-Gvir tweeted Sunday.
The decision comes in the wake of the homecoming ceremony in the Arab village of Ar’ara on Thursday for Karim Younis, who was released from prison earlier that day after completing a 40-year sentence for murder. Younis was convicted in 1983 for the murder of Israel Defense Forces Cpl. Avraham Bromberg.
The compound where the homecoming was held was decorated with PLO flags, and Younis himself also carried one.
Flying the PLO flag in public is not on its own a criminal offense in Israel. However, police have the authority to take them down if they are displayed in solidarity or sympathy with a terror group, or if there is a high probability that leaving the flag up will result in a public disturbance.
Ben-Gvir orders probe into hero’s welcome for Arab terrorist
Ben-Gvir on also instructed Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai to open a probe into what he views as internal failures that allowed public celebrations to be held last week for Younis.
“[These] are celebrations of incitement and explicit support for terrorism, and it’s unacceptable for such events to happen in our home. The State of Israel has no place for [them],” Ben-Gvir said in a statement Sunday.
“I will do everything in my power to prevent these occurrences until a law is passed on implementing the death penalty for terrorists,” he added.
Under directives from Ben-Gvir, Younis, the country’s longest-serving security prisoner who completed a four-decade jail term, was driven to the Ra’anana central bus station and not released directly from Hadarim Prison, north of Tel Aviv, in order to avoid a “victory picture.”
Younis contacted family members and received a ride to ‘Ara where he visited his mother’s grave, stating, “I am prepared to sacrifice another 40 years for the freedom of our people. My consolation is that today prisoners are united against the barbarity of the occupation.”
Ben-Gvir said on Sunday that his instructions, in particular to prevent celebration tents from being erected, had been “only partially fulfilled,” and emphasized that the probe was meant “to ensure such events do not repeat in the future.”
The Israeli Defense Ministry over the weekend revoked the entry permits to Green Line Israel of three senior Palestinian Authority officials after they participated in the homecoming ceremony for Younis.
The three men were identified as Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy chairman of Fatah’s Central Committee, Azam al-Ahmad and Ravhi Fatuh.
Ben-Gvir also announced on Sunday the cancellation of a regulation implemented by the previous government that allowed any lawmaker to meet with jailed Palestinian terrorists. Ben-Gvir said that he took the step after “concluding that these visits resulted in incitement and the promotion of terrorist actions.” The policy will now revert back to that of the past when only one legislator from each political party was permitted to meet with imprisoned terrorists, and under “appropriate supervision.”
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