The Israel Police on Tuesday night said an Israeli woman who lives abroad is behind a Facebook profile that threatened violence against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Police did not identify the woman by name or her country of residence, though the statement said she had lived abroad “for a long time.”
A user called “Dana Ron” had posted that the premier should be ousted “only by force… dictators are removed only with a bullet to the head!”
Netanyahu, who has claimed that anti-government protesters are issuing death threats against him, posted a screen shot of the comment and said he would be filing a police complaint, and police last week launched a probe into who was behind it.
Facebook earlier determined the account was fake, leading to speculation that “Ron” had been created by Netanyahu backers to tar those protesting against him. His spokesman dismissed the claim as “stupid.”
“I thank the Israel Police for locating the user who incited against me on Facebook and hope they will bring her to justice,” tweeted Netanyahu Tuesday. “Incitement to murder is out of bounds. I don’t expect an apology from the media that claimed it was a ‘bot’ that I operated, but I do expect the leaders of the left [Yair] Lapid and [Ayman] Odeh to condemn this terrible incitement.”
Netanyahu had posted a screenshot of the comment to create an equivalence in a statement condemning suspected right-wing attacks on protesters who demonstrated the previous evening in Tel Aviv against his government.
The statement, which came after the prime minister was panned for his nearly day-long silence following the violence, made a point of mentioning a police officer who was injured in a recent protest as well as the alleged threats against Netanyahu and his family.
אתמול המשטרה עצרה ליד משרד ראש הממשלה אדם שאיים לרצוח אותי ובכליו נמצאו סכינים. היום אגיש תלונה במשטרה נגד איום ההסתה המצורף כאן, שקורא לרצוח אותי ״עם כדור בראש״. pic.twitter.com/t2nUmATVwE
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) July 29, 2020
However, a series of posts by Twitter user Yossi Dorfman cast doubt over the comment’s authenticity. The user who posted it, Dana Ron, shared at least seven posts attacking Netanyahu in 10 minutes, around 2 a.m., two hours after the suspected right-wing attack on protesters. Many of the shared posts were old, and one was from September 2019 and related to Knesset elections that were held at the time.
Minutes afterwards, the profile’s bio was updated twice in two minutes. That was an hour after a live video from the protest was uploaded by activist Orly Bar-Lev, under which the offending comment was apparently posted.
Posts from two weeks ago by the profile dealt with a Japanese reality show. Its first activity was in March, when it uploaded a photo that appeared to criticize Netanyahu — but from the right, not the left.
Dorfman concluded that the profile was an “avatar,” a fake profile used for political purposes. He said it didn’t have a profile picture or a public friend list, and that its URL has a different generic name, Dana Levi.
One of the only profiles that had liked Ron’s anti-Netanyahu posts was an equally suspicious account called Lali Mor. That profile is friends with primarily Netanyahu supporters, and has “liked” the pages of his son Yair, right-wing politician Bezalel Smotrich, and other right-wing pages.
A spokeswoman for Facebook Israel told Hebrew-language media Thursday that “a probe by our global teams around the world has concluded that the said profile is fake, and it was therefore removed immediately from the platform.
“Additionally, the comment itself violates our policy regarding calls for violence and was therefore removed, along with the profile through which it was written,” the spokesperson added.