Second death threat letter leveled at Supreme Court justice

Second death threat letter leveled at Supreme Court justice

Threats against judge Anat Baron include thinly veiled reference to son killed in terror attack; Netanyahu condemns letter, links it to threats against him

Supreme Court Justice Anat Baron arrives to the courtroom for a court hearing on November 3, 2019. Photo by (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Supreme Court Justice Anat Baron arrives to the courtroom for a court hearing on November 3, 2019. Photo by (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Supreme Court Justice Anat Baron has received a second death threat letter, Channel 13 news reported Sunday, just hours after the judiciary announced a previous letter threatening the judge.

The new letter contained “clear threats on her life,” the channel reported.

Police are investigating, with media reports saying officials believe the threats are connected to a case over which Baron is presiding involving an appeal against an unspecified state agency. Channel 13 said it was not a criminal case.

On Sunday morning, a spokesperson for the judiciary said Baron had received a threatening letter on Friday, and linked the previous letter to “continuous unbridled incitement” against the courts.

The earlier letter appeared to threaten harm to Baron’s son Ido.

Supreme Court Justice Anat Baron in Jerusalem, before to the start of a court hearing on December 7, 2016. Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Baron lost her older son Ran in the 2003 Mike’s Place suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The letter warned that “another punishment awaits her.”

In a statement, the judiciary spokesperson said the body in charge of securing the courts had filed a police complaint after the threat was made to Justice Baron, a liberal-leaning judge who supported many rulings that have angered the right. Among recent cases she ruled on was one blocking the demolition of the home of an alleged terrorist.

The judiciary later issued a second, strongly worded statement.

“The threatening letter sent to Supreme Court Justice Anat Baron, including its despicable content, is the direct result of continuous unbridled incitement against the justice system and its judges,” the statement said.

“Attempts to terrorize Israel’s judges will not deter them, and they will continue to do their job without fear,” it added.

MK Yair Lapid speaks during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on him to quit, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on April 19, 2020. (Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn said: “The continued assault on the justice system is dangerous…. There are judges in Jerusalem and they will continue to do their job fearlessly.”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for inciting anger at the judiciary. Netanyahu, who is charged with corruption in three cases, has repeatedly alleged that the courts, police, his political rivals, the media and state prosecutors had all conspired to frame him for crimes he didn’t commit.

“The threat to the Supreme Court justice is a direct result of the incitement coming from Netanyahu. This is on him,” said Lapid.

Netanyahu also condemned the threats against the judge, linking them to threats against him and his family on social media.

“There should be zero tolerance toward anyone who threatens to murder judges and elected officials alike,” Netanyahu said at the opening of Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement before entering a courtroom at the Jerusalem District Court on May 24, 2020, for the start of his corruption trial. Among those alongside him from left are Likud MKs and ministers Gadi Yevarkan, Amir Ohana, Miri Regev, Nir Barkat, Israel Katz, Tzachi Hanegbi, Yoav Gallant and David Amsalem (Yonathan SINDEL / POOL / AFP)

“This month alone I have filed three police complaints over murder threats against me and my family,” he said. “I call on police to act quickly and forcefully to eradicate the phenomenon of incitement — it has no place among us.”

Last month, Channel 13 reported that court officials and police had decided to beef up security for the judges presiding over Netanyahu’s criminal trial, which began May 24.

Nissenkorn, of the centrist Blue and White party, on Saturday vowed to protect the judiciary, issuing veiled criticism of Netanyahu and his allies, who have assailed the justice system over his trial and vowed to enact far-reaching reforms.

In an interview with Channel 12, Nissenkorn said: “Our job as public servants is also to fix [the system], of course, but also to ensure that government institutions are defended and respected.”

Immediately prior to the start of his trial last month, Netanyahu ripped into police and prosecutors, insinuating a broad conspiracy to bring him down and declaring that all his right-wing supporters were on trial along with him.

Avi Nissenkorn of the Blue and White Party attends an election campaign event in Shefayim, on July 14, 2019. Gili Yaari/Flash90)

“Elements in the police and State Attorney’s Office banded together with left-wing journalists… to fabricate baseless cases against me,” he charged. “The goal is to oust a strong right-wing prime minister and to banish the right-wing camp from leadership of the country for many years.”

Netanyahu faces charges in three criminal cases: fraud and breach of trust in Cases 1000 and 2000, and bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000.

Case 1000 involves accusations that Netanyahu received gifts and benefits from billionaire benefactors including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in exchange for favors.

Case 2000 involves accusations that Netanyahu agreed with Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes to weaken a rival daily in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Case 4000, widely seen as the most serious against the premier, involves accusations that Netanyahu advanced regulatory decisions that benefited Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in the Bezeq telecom giant, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, in exchange for positive coverage from its Walla news site.


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