The wife of President Reuven Rivlin has been escorted by a private security detail over the past two weeks, Army Radio reported Thursday morning, citing the recent spate of violent attacks in Jerusalem.
The decision came following an assessment at the President’s Residence last month in light of the security situation in Israel — specifically the stabbings in and around the capital. According to the decision, Nechama Rivlin will be accompanied by a guard when she leaves her home without her husband. When the first lady is with her husband, she is protected by the guards who accompany him at all times, often in plainclothes.
Mrs. Rivlin can often be seen shopping in Jerusalem’s bustling markets or visiting museums and galleries.
The report comes a day after the Israeli media was ablaze over Facebook comments by Ran Baratz, the man tapped by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as his new spokesman, who proposed that the president be sent into Syria on a paraglider, a journey recently made by an Israeli Arab in a quest to join the Islamic State group. Baratz also said that Rivlin was so insignificant that no one would be interested in taking his life.
The President’s Residence quickly responded, saying that the president viewed Baratz’s remarks gravely and “demands to know if his statements were known to the prime minister when he decided to appoint him to the post.”
The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement later Wednesday night that it had not been aware of Baratz’s comments and that Netanyahu viewed them as unbecoming. Baratz also said in a late night interview with Channel 2 that he was sorry if Rivlin was offended.
His appointment will need to be approved by the cabinet next week.
President Rivlin has previously been a target of right-wing verbal attacks, with criticism against him often crossing the line into hate speech.
Hagai Amir, brother of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin Yigal Amir, was arrested last week after writing comments against Rivlin on Facebook. At the time Rivlin told Army Radio: “Neither my wife nor I are personally afraid – there is no fear in our hearts, but we are concerned and worry for Israeli democracy.”