Police launched an investigation after extremist ultra-Orthodox protesters threatened a senior IDF officer on Friday, distributing hate-filled flyers comparing him to Hitler and likening army service to Auschwitz.
Dozens of male protesters gathered outside the home of Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz, in the northern village of Kfar Tavor, to protest against the draft of religious men and women into the army.
The protesters dropped flyers on the ground which called on God to avenge the men and women “whose souls were burned in the army of destruction by the soul dealer… Moti Almoz.” The leaflets asked: “For how long will you burn Jewish souls in the crematoria of Auschwitz in the army of destruction?”
The leaflets accused Almoz, 49, who heads the IDF Manpower Directorate, of selling souls for cash, and ended with the warning, “Your end will be bitter like that of Hitler and his friends.”
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A police spokesperson said an investigation had been opened into the incident after officials and leading lawmakers across the board harshly condemned protesters’ actions.
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eiesnkot spoke with Almoz after the incident and expressed his “revulsion” at what happened.
“I call on law enforcement to act to bring in the people responsible for this ugly act,” Eisenkot said in a statement.
The army chief also added that the attacks on Almoz would not deter the IDF from its mission.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that, “The harsh incitement against… Almoz, and against the IDF, its soldiers and commanders, is intolerable and crosses every red line.”
The head of the Yisrael Beytenu party called on police to investigate the incident and prosecute the perpetrators.
“We cannot accept such dangerous incidents,” he said. “I call on the police and the State Prosecutor’s Office to fully and unequivocally prosecute those offenders.” He also spoke directly with Almoz, offering him support.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party denounced the incitement. “The leaflets scattered around Almoz’s house were extremely serious and outrageous,” he tweeted. “This incident crossed all the red lines. We are talking about [people on] the fringe of ultra-Orthodox society, and we condemn them.”
Opposition head Isaac Herzog offered his support to Almoz and called for police to “find these inciters and disband the extremist group.”
Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid said that Almoz was attacked by “a handful of incendiary extremists who have lost all connection with Jewish values.”
Lapid added that “The comparison between the IDF and the Auschwitz crematoria is not only insane, it is also criminal. Those who attack the General Staff generals must be sent to jail.”
This is the latest in a string of protests and riots by elements in the ultra-Orthodox community against the army and its soldiers. On Saturday night an effigy of an IDF soldier was set ablaze during celebrations for Lag B’Omer.
There have been a series of attacks by extremist ultra-Orthodox Jews against members of the community who join the Israeli military. They have also held dozens of demonstrations to protest the arrest of religious Jews who, despite being exempted from IDF service, refuse to show up at induction centers to receive their exemption.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.