Probe opened into lawyer who said he’d take up arms if legal overhaul implemented

Decision comes day after justice minister tore into attorney general over failure to speak out or direct an investigation into David Hodek’s comments

David Hodek (C) speaks at an Israel Bar Association conference on February 1, 2022. (Screen capture/Kan)
David Hodek (C) speaks at an Israel Bar Association conference on February 1, 2022. (Screen capture/Kan)

The State Prosecutor’s Office on Friday approved the police opening an investigation into an attorney who declared at a conference this week that he would “use live fire” to prevent Israel from becoming a dictatorship while speaking against the government’s judicial overhaul plans.

David Hodek, a commercial lawyer who won a Medal of Courage, one of the Israeli military’s highest awards, for his conduct as a tank officer in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, told the Israel Bar Association’s annual conference in Eilat that “if someone forces me to live in a dictatorship and I have no choice, I won’t hesitate to use live fire.”

Hodek, who was speaking on a panel, appeared to make clear he was not talking metaphorically, saying: “People are willing to fight with weapons. Everyone is aghast [at such statements]. They say ‘How can you say such a thing?’ I’m saying it. If I’m forced to go there and they drag me there, that’s what I’ll do.”

“People are ready to fight with weapons. If it needs to come to that, and if they drag me there, that’s what I’ll do,” he said. “If I need to fight, I’ll fight.”

On Saturday, Hodek apologized for his comments, saying that his “words were misinterpreted and caused a storm.”

“It is important for me to state that I oppose violence,” Hodek wrote in a series of tweets, adding that he wanted to “warn against a future dictatorship.”

“I did not say and I did not mean that the reform should be fought with weapons, no matter how terrible it may be,” Hodek wrote.

The attorney’s comments were condemned by Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who also tore into Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara for failing to speak out against Hodek and direct an investigation into the matter.

“The attorney general and her staff are busy writing another legal opinion whose purpose is to prevent the prime minister from expressing his views,” Levin said in a statement. Baharav-Miara told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that the premier that he cannot be involved in his government’s efforts to radically overhaul the legal and judicial system because he has a conflict of interests due to his ongoing corruption trial.

The legislative changes announced by Levin last month would severely restrict the High Court’s capacity to strike down laws and government decisions, with an “override clause” enabling the Knesset to re-legislate struck-down laws with a bare majority of 61.

The changes would also give the government complete control over the selection of judges, prevent the court from using a test of “reasonableness” to judge legislation and government decisions, and allow ministers to appoint their own legal advisers, instead of getting counsel from advisers operating under the aegis of the Justice Ministry.

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