Police investigating death threats against Tiberias mayor over Saturday buses
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Police investigating death threats against Tiberias mayor over Saturday buses

17-year-old arrested for Facebook threat to kill Ron Kobi; posters hung in northern city call for death penalty for ‘those who desecrate the Sabbath’

Tiberias mayor Ron Kobi at the annual Municipal Innovation Conference in Tel Aviv, on February 27, 2019. (Flash90)
Tiberias mayor Ron Kobi at the annual Municipal Innovation Conference in Tel Aviv, on February 27, 2019. (Flash90)

A 17-year-old from Jerusalem was arrested Friday for allegedly making death threats against Tiberias mayor Ron Kobi on Facebook, police said in a statement.

The teen was held for questioning for several hours before he was released on restrictive conditions. The statement said Kobi reported the threatening post to police earlier in the day.

Kobi has faced a wave of death threats since he inaugurated a new public bus line that operates on the Sabbath, a move that has faced vehement opposition from the city’s ultra-Orthodox officials.

On Friday, posters denouncing Kobi were plastered in some Tiberias neighborhoods, including one that read: “Harming the Sabbath is a betrayal of God, and therefore the Torah’s punishment for those who desecrate the Sabbath is death.”

Police have opened an investigation into the posters.

Kobi, who was elected in October, ran on a campaign to “prevent the Haredization” of the city, which has seen an influx of ultra-Orthodox — or “haredi” — residents in recent years.

Unveiling the new line earlier this month, Kobi said the bus route was part of his broader initiative to make Tiberias more accessible on Saturday to secular residents and tourists.

The initiative, he said, “did not stem from a religious struggle but a social struggle, so that people in Tiberias who cannot afford [to own a private car] will be able to go the Sea of Galilee on Shabbat.”

The launch of the new Saturday bus line in the northern city of Tiberias on February 9, 2019. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Though he promised the bus would not operate in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, Kobi’s initiative immediately sparked anger from the ultra-Orthodox community, which said public transportation on the Sabbath violated the standing status quo in the city.

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