Former pilot who bombed Iraqi nuke reactor walks back comments justifying assassination of PM

File: Ze'ev Raz speaks during a protest against a controversial agreement reached between the government and large energy companies over natural gas production, Tel Aviv, on November 28, 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
File: Ze'ev Raz speaks during a protest against a controversial agreement reached between the government and large energy companies over natural gas production, Tel Aviv, on November 28, 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

A leading figure in the anti-government protest movement walked back comments he made apparently justifying a potential assassination of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after they drew backlash from across the political spectrum.

“If the prime minister stands up and takes dictatorial powers for himself, he is a dead man, it’s as simple as that,” Ze’ev Raz, a former air force pilot who flew in the 1981 mission to bomb an Iraqi nuclear reactor, wrote in a Friday Facebook post.

Raz told followers that the Jewish religious principle of din rodef, allowing the killing of an individual who intends to kill or harm others, should apply to the prime minister as well as his ministers and followers.

Prior to the 1995 assassination of then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, some in the religious-Zionist community argued that Rabin’s intentions to sign the Oslo Accords with the Palestinian Liberation Organization defined him as a rodef.

If the prime minister “leads in a dictatorial way, there’s an obligation to kill him,” Raz wrote.

Channel 12 news, reporting on the Facebook post, says Raz is a leading figure in the anti-government protest movement.

After the report, Raz deletes the post and says: “I do not identify with that post.”

On Twitter, opposition leader Yair Lapid and National Unity party chief Benny Gantz slam Raz’s comments.

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