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'Thousands shouting I'm a terrorist is a call for my blood'

Ra’am’s Mansour Abbas said to fear attempt on his life, party calls for protection

Concerns come after right-wing protesters call coalition party leader a ‘terrorist,’ Shin Bet says it has not been asked to review his security, knows of no current threats to him

Right-wing activists and Likud supporters protest against the Israeli government in Tel Aviv, December 7, 2021. The sign reads Abbas is Hamas.(Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Right-wing activists and Likud supporters protest against the Israeli government in Tel Aviv, December 7, 2021. The sign reads Abbas is Hamas.(Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas has raised concern about incitement against him and fears an attempt on his life, sources close to the lawmaker told Channel 12 on Friday.

Abbas, who made history earlier in the year when he led his Islamist Ra’am into the governing coalition, reportedly told confidants he feared far-right Jews could try and kill him, citing recent protests where they called him a “terrorist.”

“To see thousands of people shouting that I am a terrorist, that amounts to calling for my blood,” he was quoted as saying, adding that “what worries me the most is that those who are leading the chants know exactly who and what I am, and they have no problem with me paying with my life to they can achieve their political goals.”

By joining the coalition, a collection of parties that also include right-wing, centrist and left-wing parties, Abbas ensured the small majority needed to oust Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party from power after more than a decade.

The report said Abbas himself had not appealed for added security, but that party members had done so on his behalf. They claimed to have been frustrated not to have received a response from the Shin Bet security service.

The Shin Bet, however, said that it had not received any request to review Abbas’s security, noting that responsibility for protecting lawmakers lay with the Knesset Guard, and indicated it was not aware of current threats to him.

Mansour Abbas, head of the Ra’am party, leads a faction meeting, in the Knesset on October 4, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“We would like to clarify that should the Shin Bet receive any intelligence or warnings of threats to lawmakers, it acts on them immediately,” the Shin Bet told Channel 12.

Several coalition lawmakers have received stepped-up security in recent months, most of them right-wing lawmakers who have been accused of betrayal by teaming up with the left and an Arab party.

Most recently, Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana has faced threats as he pushes ahead with profound reforms of Israel’s religious services that are deeply unpopular with the country’s ultra-Orthodox community.

Kahana, a member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party, is a strictly religious Orthodox Jew. He says his initiatives are aimed at strengthening Israel’s Jewish character.

He has been assigned additional security in recent days due to threats against him, including din rodef and pulsa dinura religious edicts.

The Talmudic din rodef, or “law of the pursuer” edict, allows for the extrajudicial killing of a person who represents a grave threat. The Haaretz daily said an extremist group had issued the order against Kahana.

Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An unnamed security source told the paper it was the most serious security threat against a politician since a din rodef was issued against former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin before his assassination.

The pulsa dinura is a kabbalistic death curse that translates to “lashes of fire” in Aramaic. The ritual invoking divine retribution has a shadowy past in Jewish mysticism and Israeli politics. A group of right-wing extremists performed the ritual against Rabin barely a month before his death, and another group claimed to have done the same six months before former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s collapse.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has in recent days been requesting that the security provided to his family members be extended, citing threats from at home and abroad.

On Friday he said he plans to file a police complaint over alleged threats he recently received, as the high-level protection of his family members is set to expire next week.

“Do not abandon the security of my wife and children,” Netanyahu pleaded in a video shared on social media.

The state-provided protection of his family is due to end Monday, six months after he was voted out of office as prime minister. Netanyahu is himself entitled to protection for 20 years after leaving the Prime Minister’s Residence.

Anti-Netanyahu protesters outside the District Court in Jerusalem, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for his trial at the District Court, February 08, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The former premier cited a Facebook post by the Crime Minister political movement, which had sought to oust him from office. The post said: “This coming Monday, security will be removed from Sara Netanyahu and her two sons. Expect surprises?”

“There is a clear threat here… including writing the explicit date on which security will be removed and there will be an opportunity to harm them,” Netanyahu said.

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