Ohana blasts ‘arrogant’ Mandelblit for failing to probe incitement against PM

Public security minister claims attorney general is ignoring ‘explicit’ threats to Netanyahu’s life while on a personal ‘crusade’ against him

Justice Minister Amir Ohana speaks at the Knesset on September 11, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Justice Minister Amir Ohana speaks at the Knesset on September 11, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana on Friday accused Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit of failing to take recent threats made against the prime minister seriously.

“You’re not giving serious attention to my appeal over the growing threats to the lives of the prime minister and his family,” Ohana wrote in a letter to the attorney general.

Ohana earlier in the week called participants in a Tuesday mass demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu anarchists, while claiming the level of incitement currently being directed at the premier and his family dwarfs what was seen in the lead-up to former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination.

Ohana claimed that incitement against Netanyahu “is overflowing” and that “the incitement that preceded Rabin’s assassination pales in comparison.”

“There is incitement against the prime minister. They compare him to Louis XVI, who was executed by beheading,” Ohana said.

He urged Mandelblit to investigate such threats.

But Mandelblit in response said there were no specific, credible threats that in his estimation justified an investigation.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit speaks at the 17th annual Jerusalem Conference of the ‘Besheva’ group, on February 24, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“The Knesset has made the criteria for opening investigations more stringent, to only pertain to cases where there is a real possibility of violence,” Mandelblit wrote in response, adding that he did not “make light of the severity of threats of incitement” and noting that credible threats had been probed in the past.

Ohana on Friday said Mandelblit’s response was “arrogant” and claimed that “recently you have seemed as one on a crusade against the prime minister.”

He mentioned Mandelblit’s opinion rejecting Netanyahu’s request to receive funds from a foreign benefactor to pay for the legal defense in his corruption trial.

“In the public sphere… there are clear calls today for the murder of the prime minister and his family. These are plain and explicit threats,” he said.

Citing several protesters against the prime minister who allegedly made threats against Netanyahu’s life, he demanded that the attorney general explain his failure to prosecute such cases.

Several thousand people gathered Tuesday evening in Jerusalem, calling on Netanyahu to quit over his indictment on corruption charges. Some of the demonstrators attempted to break through security barriers at the scene and clashed with police. As the protest ended, hundreds moved downtown, where they blocked the light rail system, leading to mass arrests.

Demonstrators protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem on July 16, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Some of the protesters were also filmed harassing journalists who came to cover the demonstration. One was filmed calling Channel 13 reporter Avishai Ben Haim a “Moroccan dog,” leading to condemnation by Netanyahu himself.

The Jerusalem demonstration was part of the ongoing “black flag” anti-corruption protests against Netanyahu.

Numerous such protests have been held in recent weeks and months, but Tuesday night’s was unprecedentedly large, with an unusually high participation of young people.

Tamir Hefetz, one of the organizers, stressed in a Wednesday Channel 12 interview that the organizers are firmly opposed to violence and confrontation.

Protesting what he said was the media’s obsession in the wake of the demonstration with “whether there was violence… whether an anarchist threw a chair,” he said the real issue was that “there is an entire generation of young people who are growing up to a dictatorial state, with no future, whose prime minister spends his days only seeking to evade justice… who passes anti-democratic laws, who harms the judicial system. These [young] people are crying out. I cry out with them… The protest is a protest to preserve democracy.”

Hefetz also said those responsible for initiating the violence were largely “provocateurs” who infiltrated the demonstration.

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