Beit Shemesh resident, 18, indicted for death threat against Liberman

Police say suspect’s actions stemmed from political opposition to the finance minister and his Yisrael Beytenu party

Tobias (Toby) Siegal is a breaking news editor and contributor to The Times of Israel.

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman leads a Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting at the Knesset on May 16, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman leads a Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting at the Knesset on May 16, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

An 18-year-old man from Beit Shemesh was indicted on Monday at the Jerusalem District Court for sending death threats to Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and his family.

The suspect was arrested last week shortly after police received a complaint that the Israeli lawmaker had gotten direct threats on social media.

Police released a screenshot of the messages allegedly sent to Liberman by the suspect on Instagram. “I’m dying to kill you, if only I see you. Get ready, do you prefer a knife or an axe???” one message read.

“Should I kill you or your family??” another message said.

According to the police investigation, the threats were the result of the suspect’s political views and strong opposition to Liberman.

Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party has long been seen as a key foe of the Haredi way of life. In the latest example of the ongoing feud, Liberman said last month that there was no reason to fund Haredi Torah institutions that teach “idleness.”

Residents of the mixed Modern Orthodox-Haredi neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph on April 27, 2020. (Sam Sokol)

Threats directed at public officials have become more prevalent recently.

Right-wing political activist Ilana Sporta Hania was arrested last month after sending two letters containing bullets to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, his wife and his teenage son, threatening their safety if the prime minister did not resign.

The following week, the Beersheba District Court sentenced Beersheba resident Asher Ben David to 13 months in prison for tweets he wrote in 2020 that included indications he wanted to kill former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his son Yair.

The presiding judges in the case explained the relatively harsh sentence by noting the importance of “denouncing and being strict with those who seek to affect governance and change the actions of elected officials through threats and to use this method to have an impact on the democratic system.”

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