Police on Thursday arrested a 30-year-old man suspected of sending death threats to Labor MK Stav Shaffir over her criticism of the extremist Otzma Yehudit political party.
The man, a resident of the southern town of Mazkeret Batya, openly threatened to murder the 33-year-old lawmaker.
Messages sent to Shaffir’s phone included: “I will murder you,” “electric shocks to your leftist brain would help,” and “I will murder you, burn you, you bitch.”
The man is a supporter of Otzma Yehudit, an extremist political party that Shaffir has branded as akin to Nazism. Shaffir led a Labor party appeal against the party’s chairman, Michael Ben Ari, being allowed to run for the Knesset, saying he incited racism.
Israeli election law forbids the candidacy of individuals or parties who openly incite to racism and violence. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit backed the appeal, saying the evidence of Ben Ari’s calls for racism was undeniable.
Despite the appeal by opposition lawmakers, the Central Elections Committee allowed Ben Ari to run for office Wednesday by a vote of 16-15. The issue is set to be addressed by the High Court of Justice.
During the debate over Ben Ari’s disqualification, Otzma Yehudit’s no. 2, Itamar Ben Gvir, tried to hand Shaffir a notice about a libel lawsuit he had filed in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court against her comparison of his party to Nazism.
Shaffir said Thursday that the suspect’s threats were “typical” of supporters of the late extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, a figure venerated by Otzma Yehudit’s leaders.
“The violence of the Kahanists is dangerous to the whole of Israeli society, and that’s the important thing here, more than the personal danger faced by those who confront them,” Shaffir said in a statement following the Thursday arrest.
“Many more will experience [that violence],” she warned. “They corrupt and destroy the Zionist vision… Israeli democracy is stronger than them.”
The suspect will be taken to the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court later Thursday for a remand hearing.