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Education minister Shasha-Biton receives boosted security amid death threats

Last week saw anti-vaxxer indicted for WhatsApp message: ‘You should note we do not talk, we assassinate and murder people,’ with reference to adviser recently shot to death

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton attends a New Hope faction meeting at the Knesset on August 2 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton attends a New Hope faction meeting at the Knesset on August 2 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton was granted extra security on Sunday following increased threats against her, three days ahead of the start of the school year.

Shasha-Biton, a member of the New Hope Party, has been particularly outspoken in her criticism of much of the government’s approach to the coronavirus. While she originally opposed vaccinating children on school grounds once they reopen this week, she eventually somewhat walked back her sharp opposition.

On Friday, a 63-year-old Tel Aviv resident was indicted at the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court for threatening the lives of Shasha-Biton and her family.

The man, whose online activities show him to be an anti-vaxxer, was accused of sending a threatening message to a WhatsApp group he manages with hundreds of others, in which he referenced the murder of Shasha-Biton’s adviser on Arab affairs, Sahar Ismail, outside his home earlier this month.

“A final warning and alert to Education Minister Shasha-Biton before your family is harmed,” the man wrote. “Your personal assistant who was assassinated with gunshots… was a final warning… You should note we do not talk, we assassinate and murder people.”

Shasha-Biton has been the target of repeated threats over the past few months, and has risen to prominence as a vocal and outspoken member of the coronavirus cabinet. During an interview with Channel 12 news last month, Shasha-Biton said setting up coronavirus vaccination stations inside schools was “a crime.” On Saturday, the minister walked back her statement, saying that she “used too harsh a word.”

Earlier this month, Shasha-Biton voted against expanding the “Green Pass” system in protest of the fact that synagogues with up to 50 worshippers were exempt from the restrictions. She has also repeatedly clashed with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz over coronavirus restrictions in schools and has been the subject of multiple anonymous attacks in the press.

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