‘Death to Bibi!’: Man indicted over series of threatening Facebook posts

57-year-old charged with three counts of incitement to violence for claiming Netanyahu exploited pandemic to control citizens

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a press conference at the Knesset, in Jerusalem on April 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a press conference at the Knesset, in Jerusalem on April 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The State Prosecutor’s Office filed an indictment Sunday against an Israeli man who posted posts on Facebook in which he called for the death of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ofer Kopelman, 57, was charged with three counts of incitement to violence over three Facebook posts from May and June of last year.

In the first post, Kopelman wrote, “That oppressor Bibi! He’s once again playing with our heads. Inventing a second wave [of the pandemic] in order to keep us stuck at home. Then he will quietly carry out annexation.” Ironically, the suspect is a resident of the Alfei Menashe settlement.

“Bibi Netanyahu is the worst of our enemies!!! His sentence must be death!!!” Kopelman added.

In a second post, the suspect shared an article about the premier and wrote, “Only his murder will give us back our country! Death to Bibi!!!!!!!!!”

In a third post, Kopelman dismissed Netanyahu’s efforts to impose a second lockdown due to rising coronavirus cases. “Once again they are trying to scare us… Even if there are three times as many seriously ill patients, there are enough ventilators to treat them. But why not once again bring us to our knees? It is much easier to control us like this,” he wrote sarcastically. “Again the obvious conclusion is Death to Bibi Netanyahu !!!”

Police officers scuffle with demonstrators during a protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem on April 24, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Law enforcement has periodically filed charges against individuals for threatening the prime minister on social media in recent years.

In January, Haaretz reported that police had charged a psychiatric patient for allegedly threatening Netanyahu’s life, based on comments he muttered to himself and to cats at the institution where he was hospitalized.

At a remand hearing on the case, a Tel Aviv judge said he did not believe the threat was serious or credible since the patient had previously been deemed mentally unfit for trial. The judge criticized police for pushing the indictment and refused to remand the suspect into custody.

In December, a southern man was arrested on suspicion of threatening a series of right-wing political and public figures, including Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. Police said a complaint was filed against the man, 22, from the upscale town of Omer, near Beersheba, over social media threats against Rivlin.

In November, the Ashdod Magistrate’s Court convicted a Beersheba man who threatened Netanyahu on social media. Last June, Asher Ben Dor wrote on Twitter, “Anyone know about preparations to assassinate the prime minister? It seems the time has come, it seems to be that it has become unbearable.”

The 39-year-old reached a plea bargain with state prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty in exchange for an amended indictment that dropped one of the two charges against him for issuing a threat.

In June, an Ashkelon man was indicted for posting threats to Netanyahu on social media. Tzvi Sabag, 57, was accused of penning Facebook posts with direct threats against the premier in November of last year and also threatening his son, Yair Netanyahu.

Netanyahu has recently made several complaints to police over threats to harm him and his family.

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