Itamar Ben Gvir was born in 1976 to Iraqi Jewish immigrants. As a teenager, he joined Kakh – an extremist Zionist movement led by the American Jewish rabbi and convicted terrorist Meir Kahane. The ideology of Kakh was a mixture of religious Zionism and anti-Arab violence, which openly advocated for ethnic cleansing not just in Historic Palestine, but also beyond.
Following the 1994 massacre at the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron by Kakh supporter, Baruch Goldstein, both the Israeli regime and the US State Department designated Kakh as a terrorist organisation. Ben Gvir, still an avid Kahane supporter, was known to hang a portrait of Goldstein in his living room – he apparently took it down once he started making a bid for the Knesset. In 2007 he was convicted for supporting a terrorist organisation and inciting racism in the streets of Jerusalem. He has since been involved in various violent incidents including in 2021 where he pulled out a gun on a Palestinian parking attendant in Tel Aviv.
Whilst Ben Gvir was a fringe political figure in Israeli politics not long ago and even regarded by many Israelis as an extremist novelty, in a short space of time, his crass and racist rhetoric has gained him an adoring following of mostly young fanatical West Bank settlers.
In the November 2022 Israeli elections, Ben Gvir managed to win a record 14 seats for his party and made his way into the governing coalition with Benjamin Netanyahu. As part of the coalition agreement, Ben Gvir has been given the expanded ministerial file of National Security Minister. This new position merges the responsibilities of the minister of public security with the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry and the Jewish Heritage Ministry.