Activist says Netanyahu’s social media adviser is inciting against him

Gonen Ben Yitzhak files police complaint, says posts on premier’s Facebook and Twitter pages tied his photo to threats against the PM he had nothing to do with

Topaz Luk, social media adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives with the premier at the Knesset, September 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Topaz Luk, social media adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives with the premier at the Knesset, September 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A leading activist against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu filed a police complaint on Thursday against the premier’s social media adviser, saying posts issued by Netanyahu’s accounts incited against him.

Gonen Ben Yitzhak, a lawyer and a leader of the regular protests against Netanyahu, filed the complaint against Topaz Luk, the premier’s “new media” director, Channel 12 reported.

The posts in question were published by Netanyahu’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts on Wednesday. They included a photo of Ben Yitzhak alongside Netanyahu’s comments on two alleged threats against him: the arrest of a man who is suspected of threatening him (and who has nothing to do with Ben Yitzhak) and a comment from a Facebook account that threatened Netanyahu — one that has since been removed by Facebook, which said it was a fake profile.

The threat, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname, read, “Bibi needs to get taken down, only by force… Dictators are removed only with a bullet in the head!”

Gonen Ben Yitzhak is arrested during a protest against Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem on July 14, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Netanyahu’s Twitter account posted an image of the threat alongside an image of Ben Yitzhak, and wrote: “Yesterday the police arrested next to the prime minister’s office a man who threatened to kill me, and knives were found in his vehicle. Today I’m filing a complaint with the police against the inciting threat attached here, which calls to murder me.”

Ben Yitzhak in his complaint said that since his photo was included in the post, even though he had no connection to the threats, the “prime minister is inciting against me personally.” It wasn’t immediately clear why Ben Yitzhak’s image was included in the post, but it appeared to be a screenshot, with the fake Facebook comment posted in response to a video of Ben Yitzhak.

“It’s clear to everyone that someone ‘engineered’ a post on the prime minister’s page, with a picture of me, and a caption about an armed man caught with a knife near the prime minister’s office,” Ben Yitzhak told Channel 12. “Anyone who sees the tweet and doesn’t understand the connection immediately sees my picture, and this is the prime minister inciting against people who are protesting him, so that a disturbed ‘Yigal Amir’ will catch one of us in the street and stab us.”

Yigal Amir was a far-right extremist who assassinated former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

Ben Yitzhak said he targeted Luk in his complaint, and not Netanyahu, because, “I don’t believe the prime minister is the one who decided to put me in the crosshairs. I think that the new media managers did this and it’s them that need to bear the responsibility.”

The Facebook account that issued the threat against Netanyahu, under the name Dana Ron, was determined a fake on Thursday and removed.

The Israel Police cyber unit in the Lahav 433 special crimes umbrella unit opened an investigation aimed at discovering who was behind the fake profile, which was closed by Facebook on Thursday.

A spokesperson for Netanyahu denied some suggestions that Netanyahu himself was behind the fake profile and threat, calling such claims “stupid.”

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