Knesset Speaker slams AG for ‘lack of response to incitement against Netanyahu’
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Knesset Speaker slams AG for ‘lack of response to incitement against Netanyahu’

Levin says action not taken over alleged assassination threats, a week after Mandelblit dismissed Ohana’s similar claim; panel headed by PM said set to discuss upping his security

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, with then-tourism minister Yariv Levin during a vote at the assembly hall of the Knesset on February 13, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, with then-tourism minister Yariv Levin during a vote at the assembly hall of the Knesset on February 13, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Sunday there was a “lack of response” from the attorney general in the face of alleged assassination threats against the premier, as well as the continued anti-corruption protests.

“We have seen how the events are exploited for contempt of state symbols, and serious threats of assassination and unprecedented incitement against the prime minister and his family. However, we are encountering a real lack of response from law enforcement and the attorney general,” Levin wrote in a Facebook post. “The prosecuting authorities should have acted in the same way as the police on the ground, who are the only ones who stand firm in the face of the violent demonstrations.

“This is a test time for all law enforcement agencies. They must stop the inaction and act vigorously to protect all Israeli citizens,” Levin wrote.

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana has also claimed several times that protests across the country against corruption and the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic are part of a trend of “incitement” against Netanyahu that he says is worse than the lead-up to the 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit speaks at an event in Bar Ilan University. March 4, 2020. (FLASH90)

But last week, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit dismissed claims by Ohana that he wasn’t treating recent threats against Netanyahu seriously.

Ohana, a Likud party ally of Netanyahu who previously clashed with Mandelblit repeatedly as justice minister, sent Mandelblit a letter accusing the attorney general of ignoring alleged threats on the premier’s life.

In his stinging response, Mandelblit described Ohana’s letter as “riddled with unfounded and false claims against law enforcement.”

Mandelblit responded that there were no specific, credible threats that in his estimation justified an investigation. He added that credible threats had previously been probed and stressed he didn’t “make light of the severity of threats of incitement.”

He said all his office’s decisions were “made only on a professional and matter-of-fact basis, never from improper or personal considerations,” noting that criminal investigations were opened in three cases of threats against Netanyahu, and charges were filed in one of them.

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana holds a press conference in Jerusalem, on July 15, 2020. (Flash90)

Ohana spoke to Kan public radio on Sunday, a day after thousands took part in demonstrations throughout the country against Netanyahu. Several people were arrested at the largest rally in Jerusalem as police clashed with protesters. Three others were arrested in separate incidents for attacking demonstrators in the capital and at other locations.

“There is a feeling and high probability that it will end in bloodshed,” said Ohana. “I am really worried by the hate in the air.”

According to leaked recordings published Sunday, Ohana is seeking to “challenge” a High Court of Justice ruling that allowed the continued protests in Jerusalem against Netanyahu, and is applying immense pressure on police to step up enforcement against demonstrators.

Meanwhile, the ministerial committee that deals with matters related to the Shin Bet internal security service, is reportedly set to discuss increasing Netanyahu’s security detail in light of the protests.

Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem on July 25, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

According to the Kan public broadcaster, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said that he had initiated the upcoming debate on the matter by the committee, which is headed by Netanyahu.

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

Last week, a man from the northern town of Safed who threatened to assassinate Netanyahu was indicted, police announced.

Last month Netanyahu made such accusations against an unspecified social media user he said had threatened to murder him and his wife.

Also in June, a man was arrested for threatening Netanyahu in a social media post, police said, without providing further details on the threats. The suspect, a 21-year-old resident of the north of Israel, was arrested by the cyber unit of the police’s Lahav 433 national crime squad.

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