Prominent Likud activist arrested for threats against Netanyahu prosecutor

Suspect reportedly sent letter to Liat Ben-Ari, a regular target of the PM’s supporters, telling her, ‘This is your end’

Liat Ben-Ari arrives at District Court in Jerusalem, May 24, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Liat Ben-Ari arrives at District Court in Jerusalem, May 24, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

A prominent Likud activist was arrested Monday on suspicion of threatening Deputy State Attorney Liat Ben-Ari, the lead prosecutor in the corruption cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a letter sent to Ben-Ari, the activist wrote, “We will wear you down until you commit suicide. This is your end,” the Ynet news site reported.

The suspect was questioned in the Lahav 433 serious crimes unit on suspicion of threatening a public servant, the report said, quoting his attorney, Susie Uzzini Arnia, as saying he denied the suspicions attributed to him.

The prime minister’s defenders have harshly criticized Ben-Ari and other members of the law enforcement community whom they accuse, without evidence, of attempting to unseat Netanyahu for political reasons.

Supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold up signs against judges and state prosecutors, during a rally in Tel Aviv on November 26, 2019. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Last month, security was significantly increased around Ben-Ari after threats against her escalated.

The development came days after another man was indicted on charges of threatening Ben-Ari’s underage son, and after several weeks of protests outside her home.

Channel 13 reported that the Israel Police had received intelligence that the danger had become more serious, leading to the decision to assign her security guards around the clock.

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid said the need for security for Ben-Ari was due to Netanyahu, who has railed against the courts, prosecution and media for what he terms a “witch hunt.”

Right-wing activists protest in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, April 20, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

“Another dangerous red line crossed by the prime minister,” Lapid said. “The thought that a top prosecutor needs a security detail because of the prime minister is intolerable in a democratic country.”

In May, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who indicted Netanyahu, filed a complaint with police after receiving death threats and other harassing messages.

Among the messages sent to Mandelblit were “You and your family will die,” “You should kill yourself,” and “We’ll get to you and your kids,” as well as a photo of him in a Nazi uniform, Channels 12 and 13 reported at the time. He was also sent a clip of a coffin, the reports said.

Last month, Netanyahu’s eldest son Yair apologized to Hindus after tweeting an image of the Hindu goddess Durga, with the face of Ben-Ari superimposed over the goddess’s face. Her many arms were raised giving the middle finger.

Mandelbit’s face was superimposed over that of a tiger accompanying the goddess under a caption that said: “Know your place you despicable people.”

In July, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana called on Ben-Ari to resign over allegations that she had violated the law by splitting her home into two separate apartments without a permit.

Aides to the prime minister harshly criticized Ben-Ari in October after she went on vacation in the middle of pre-indictment legal proceedings. A source close to Netanyahu said that she had given the impression that she had already decided the outcome of the hearings and therefore did not bother attending. The Justice Ministry defended her, but a ministry source acknowledged her actions showed a lack of public sensitivity.

Netanyahu’s trial on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust opened in May in the Jerusalem District Court. He denies any wrongdoing.

Sam Sokol contributed to this report.

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