Gallant (right) and Ben-Gvir (left)
Gallant (right) and Ben-Gvir (left)Flash 90

During yesterday's (Sunday) meeting of the political-security cabinet, a debate developed between National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant regarding the release of terrorists' bodies held by Israel.

Minister Gallant said: "The defense minister has the authority to approve the return of terrorists' bodies. A question arose concerning the bodies of terrorists with Iraeli citizenship, and I decided to hold the body of Walid Daka and release five other terrorists' bodies. Minister Ben-Gvir decided to disregard me and instructed the police not to comply."

Ben-Gvir replied: "This is a democratic state. In the process, it is determined that the National Security Minister is asked, and indeed my position is against this. I think that releasing the bodies of Israeli terrorists is negligent. It also harms our ability to release them in exchange for hostages or hostages' bodies. I don't understand the rush to release; we need to hold on to the bodies."

ISA director Ronen Bar supported Gallant's position: "There is not much value in holding the bodies of Israeli terrorists. It just creates friction with Israeli Arabs." Minister Ben-Gvir responded: "Unfortunately, you also made these assessments before October 7th, and the fact is that in deals, Hamas demanded the release of Israeli Arabs."

Justice Minister Yariv Levin wondered: "I don't understand where the right to release bodies suddenly comes from? Where is it determined? No body of an Israeli Arab should be released."

At this point, the Prime Minister intervened in the discussion. "Hamas demanded them, and we did not release them," he emphasized. The ISA head noted that "we have not yet reached the stage of the bodies." Ben-Gvir wondered why the bodies should be returned now, and the Prime Minister expressed support for his position. "We have no choice - we don't need to release now."

Minister Gallant responded angrily: "So I give up my authority to make decisions - decide what you want."

At this point, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara remarked to Gallant: "You cannot give up your authority."

The Prime Minister determined that an announcement would be sent to the Supreme Court stating that Israel would not release the body of the terrorist Walid Daka. "We determine that the bodies of Israeli Arabs will not be released until a further decision," he concluded.