National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir claimed on Monday that he has intelligence that some of the protesters against the government’s judicial overhaul are planning to kill him and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The far-right leader of the Otzma Yehudit party told the Kan public broadcaster that while it was wrong to generalize about the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, within the protest groups there were those “who are planning the next murder.”
“Most of them are good people, but among them are those planning the next political murder, who say ‘you have to kill Ben Gvir, Sara Netanyahu, to murder Benjamin Netanyahu,'” Ben Gvir said.
“I see the intelligence assesments and I listen to those shouting from the bottom of their hearts,” he said. “There are leftist anarchists who some time ago crossed the red line and are planning to kill me and the prime minister.”
Ben Gvir also claimed that a demonstration last week outside a hair salon where the premier’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, was getting her hair done was an “attempted lynching,” citing further “intelligence material” he received on the matter.
“Imagine if it weren’t Sara Netanyahu at the hair salon, but Lihi Lapid, or Galit Bennett. We both know the two of them were treated differently. [Protesters] are allowed to yell, but they are not allowed to besiege a hair salon,” he said referring to the wives of former prime ministers Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett.
An unnamed senior police official later told Kan that he was unaware of the intelligence cited by Ben Gvir that protesters were planning a political murder.
Ben Gvir then tweeted that he was “shocked” that police sources would contradict him and vowed to “wipe clean any politicization from professional police work.”
Ben Gvir’s remarks on Monday sparked outrage among opposition figure.
“I call for Netanyahu to fire Ben Gvir before it is too late!” National Unity party leader Benny Gantz tweeted. “A person [Ben Gvir] who was involved in [Jewish] terror instead of being drafted into the army is delegitimizing patriotic protesters. Ben Gvir and the inciters are the fuel for [military service] refusal,” Gantz said, referencing recent threats by reservists to not show up for duty in protest.
Opposition chief Yair Lapid called Ben Gvir a liar and a “clown.”
“First, the TikTok clown made up that he looks at screens and gives orders. This morning he already started inventing ‘intelligence materials’ that do not exist. This is not only ridiculous, but it is also dangerous,” Lapid tweeted, referring to Ben Gvir’s presence at a police command center as officers confronted demonstrators.
Ben Gvir has instructed police to use a heavy hand against protesters opposing the government’s planned judicial overhaul who block roads, and who have been painted by himself and several members of the government as “anarchists.”
The police force came under criticism last Wednesday for rough treatment of protesters in Tel Aviv, including an officer who hurled a stun grenade into a crowd of people.
Police used horse-mounted cops and water cannons against demonstrators again on Saturday as they sought to disperse them
Protest leaders released a statement accusing Ben Gvir of launching a “campaign of lies and incitement against reservists, high-tech workers, doctors, students and hundreds of thousands of those loyal to democracy, and trying to paint them as murderers.”
“There is no dark and false corner that this serial convict of incitement to terror will not enter. We call on the prime minister to immediately fire him from his position,” they said.
Later responding to the criticism over Twitter, Ben Gvir wrote that “unlike the creators of the campaign for a civil war, bloodshed, refusal to serve in the IDF, and BDS against the country, I read intelligence reports and receive regular situation assessments.
“The fear of bloodshed is real. The irresponsible leadership on the left has lost its mind,” he added.
The weekly protests arose in response to Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s proposals to curtail the judiciary.
Critics say the proposed overhaul will weaken Israel’s democratic character, remove a key element of its checks and balances, and leave minorities unprotected. Supporters say it is a much-needed reform to rein in an activist court.