Former police chief warns Ben-Gvir could use ‘National Guard’ to carry out coup

Middle East Monitor  /  April 3, 2023

A former police chief in Israel warned on Saturday that the “National Guard” unit to be formed and run by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir could be used to carry out a coup against the government. Moshe Karadi led Israel’s police service between 2004 and 2007. Ben-Gvir “will use [the unit] against him one day,” he warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Netanyahu should learn a little bit of history and see what happens in countries in which politicians have their own armed forces,” explained Karadi. “It is a short step between this and the fact that he [Ben-Gvir], with this power, could take over the Prime Minister’s Office and launch a coup.”

Israeli rights groups have also warned Netanyahu against this move, arguing that it could politicise policing and undermine the principle of equality in law enforcement.

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, who was prevented by Ben-Gvir from attending a cabinet meeting to give his opinion on the matter, has issued a grave warning against the formation of the National Guard under direct supervision of the extremist minister. He warned that separating the new force from the police will severely harm public security and cause chaos in law enforcement.

Israeli Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara told the government on Sunday that there is a “legal hindrance” to the current version of the proposal. Nevertheless, Israeli ministers voted in favour of forming the National Guard under the command of Ben-Gvir, along with a major budget cut across all ministries to fund it.