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Sharp rise recorded in online incitement against police amid PM’s probes

Report says majority of vitriol emanates from right-wing commentators; incitement against now-departed police chief also increased dramatically

Then Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a ceremony welcoming Alsheich to the job, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on December 3, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Then Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a ceremony welcoming Alsheich to the job, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on December 3, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

There has been a sharp rise in online incitement against police this year amid a series of criminal investigations involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the findings of a new report.

The report by the Berl Katznelson Educational Center and Israeli research firm Vigo, details of which were aired on Hadashot TV news Saturday, recorded a 149 percent increase in incitement against police on social media this year compared to the year before, as well as a 498% jump since 2015.

Incitement against former Israel Police commissioner Roni Alsheich, whose final day in the post was Sunday, also increased dramatically. The report said it was up 25% from the year before and 108% since 2015.

The network said a marked uptick in incitement against police took place in February, when investigators recommended Netanyahu be charged in a pair of corruption probes.

According to the report, 58% of the incitement against police came from social media profiles identified as right-wing, compared to 2% from the left and 40% with no political affiliation. For posts against Alsheich, these numbers were 53%, 6%, and 41% respectively.

The report, which tracked social media posts from November 1, 2017, to October 1 of this year was made up of posts against police or Alsheich from a host of social media platforms, blogs, online forums, and the comments sections of news sites.

Netanyahu has denounced the investigations as a witch hunt and sparred publicly with Alsheich, who he has insinuated was behind leaks to the media of details from the cases.

A farewell ceremony for outgoing chief of Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, center, at the national police academy in Beit Shemesh, on November 29, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

On Sunday, after police recommended the prime minister be indicted in a third corruption case, Netanyahu claimed the investigation was “skewed from the start” and charged that police “decided what the outcome would be” before the probe even began.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing in the three investigations, known as cases 1000, 2000, and 4000, which involve suspicions he advanced the interests of businessmen and associates in exchange for favors and positive media coverage.

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