Haim Shadmi, a left-wing activist who allegedly threatened Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair earlier this week, was on Friday called in for questioning under caution by police.
Shadmi was summoned to the Lahav 433 serious crimes unit, following a complaint filed by the prime minister on Wednesday, as well as a separate complaint filed by Yair Netanyahu himself.
Dozens of supporters waited for Shadmi at the police unit on Friday, Channel 13 news reported. The activist addressed the crowd saying that “justice and truth will prevail, there is no force that is stronger than them.”
The questioning came after a video clip released by the prime minister showed a demonstration outside his official residence, in which a masked demonstrator, Shadmi, appears to say: “Yair, remember our promise. It seems far-fetched. Believe us, we told you all along, we know why you need security guards. Believe me, we know, one day you’ll be without guards and then…”
The man then paused and shrugged, “who knows?”
“The incitement on the far left has crossed red lines,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “These are concrete threats against my son’s life. They must not be ignored.”
Netanyahu said Shadmi also threatened to lodge a Molotov cocktail at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, though no clip corroborating that was released.
In a statement on Facebook, Shadmi said: “I do not have, I did not have and I will never have the intention of using physical violence or threatening the life of a man, not even someone who is in my eyes vile and destroys Israeli democracy. In the heat of the demonstration — like the heat of the bleachers in football — sometimes things are said in a creative and passionate way… I do not support violence, I have never hit or physically hurt anyone, I will never do that and I will never call on anyone to do so.”
Shadmi, a freelance journalist, author and documentary maker, has published investigative pieces in Zman Yisrael, the Times of Israel’s Hebrew sister site, one of which, on Israel’s health care system, was published last month by The Times of Israel.
Yair Netanyahu, 28, who lives in the premier’s Jerusalem residence, is an arch-conservative who has become known for his brash and often off-color social media trolling.
Last month, Netanyahu disavowed his son’s remarks after he appeared to wish death upon left-wing protesters at a Tel Aviv rally against the prime minister.
Nitzan Horowitz, the leader of the far-left Meretz party, had tweeted a picture of himself standing among the socially distanced crowd wearing a face mask, leading the younger Netanyahu to accuse him of endangering public health. “I hope the elderly who die following this protest will only be from your camp,” Netanyahu wrote.
He later added that he believed the protest was a form of mass gathering that would help the deadly coronavirus spread.
“So statistically, there is a good chance that the left-wing protesters tonight caused the future deaths of elderly people. I prefer them not to be ours,” he wrote.
Netanyahu’s comments drew immediate and vociferous rebuke, including from his father, whose office released a statement saying that he “roundly rejects the remarks.”
“There are no [political] camps in the struggle against the coronavirus, and there shouldn’t be,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.