The Israeli Medical Association called on Wednesday for a criminal investigation into threats and incitement from antivaxxers against health care professionals working to encourage vaccination.
The statement came the day after the revelations that Prof. Galia Rahav, a member of the Health Ministry panel that has been advising on vaccinations, was receiving threatening messages from antivaxxers.
“Galia, I hope and long for a day when God will soon take you,” read one message, while another described her as “Hitler’s future neighbor in hell.”
The Health Ministry said in a statement of condemnation that the messages were “shameful and a disgrace.”
Tomer Lotan, a senior official in the Health Ministry, told the Kan public broadcaster that the threats were “outrageous and it makes the blood boil.”
“This is a dangerous red line that must not be crossed,” Lotan said.
Channel 12 news found that the head of public health at the ministry, Sharon Alroy-Pries, was also receiving inciting messages on social media.
“Soon Sharon Alroy-Pries will pay the price,” read one comment.
“Slowly it turns out that we are imprisoned in a psychopathic experiment run by her and it will not end until she is released,” read another.
Doctors also said they were compared to Nazis. Epidemiologist Prof. Hagai Levine, who previously served as the head of the doctors union, told Channel 12 that he received phone calls and comments online in which he was compared to Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, who performed medical experiments on humans.
“I come from a family of Holocaust survivors and it is definitely very unpleasant when they tell me ‘you are worse than Mengele,'” he said. “I receive emails, WhatsApp messages and sometimes home phone calls with threats and curses. These are not just antivaxxers but groups with different agendas.”
Other doctors are falsely accused of having a financial interest in the pharmaceutical companies producing vaccines.
The threats were not the only time anti-vaccination activists have used Nazi imagery to attack Israel’s inoculation program.
At a demonstration earlier this month in Tel Aviv, several hundred people gathered to protest against the government program granting the vaccinated or recovered more access to public venues than those who refuse the shots.
Alongside banners deploring the green pass system as a form of apartheid, there was also a banner equating the pass to the yellow stars of the Holocaust and the numbers Nazis tattooed onto the arms of concentration camp inmates.
A previous Tel Aviv rally a week earlier featured a number of people not wearing masks, as well as comparisons between Israel’s vaccination campaign and Nazi laws, with some wearing yellow Stars of David saying “not vaccinated” meant to resemble the ones that Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust.