The tensions between the haredi community and the government might lead to the assassination of Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, a prominent haredi attorney and public figure said.
The comments on Tuesday generated outrage from several quarters on Wednesday and the police announced the initiation of an investigation into the remarks.
Speaking to Israel Radio, attorney Dov Halbertal said he had been told that the current situation could lead to “a second Yitzhak Rabin[-style] murder.”
Halbertal was explaining to the radio host what a yeshiva student had told him about the feeling in the ultra-Orthodox community in light of government legislation to draft haredi men to military service, as well as other numerous issues which have created a feeling in the community that it is under attack.
“Over Shabbat I hosted a [married] yeshiva student and he said something astonishing, which I think has a lot of truth in it,” said Halbertal. “He said to me, Listen, there is going to be a new ‘murder of Yitzhak Rabin,’ Lapid will be murdered by a haredi person.”
Halbertal insisted that he was quoting someone in the community and was not making any threat himself, but said the believed the concern was justified.
In response to media reports about the comments, the police opened an investigation, led by the Lahav 433 national crime unit, into the comments to check if they amounted to a criminal offense.
Lapid’s colleague in Yesh Atid, Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri, called on the security services to act against the “wild incitement and threats of murder” coming from elements in haredi society, and said the personal attacks against Lapid “remind me of the eve of the murder of [prime minister Yitzhak] Rabin.”
The rhetorical attacks against Lapid would not prevent the legislative progress of the conscription bill, which contained “a conceptual revolution,” Peri said. “It is incumbent upon the haredi community to get used to it and to integrate itself to the [terms of the] bill and into Israeli society.”
United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni criticized Halbertal for presenting himself as a type of spokesman for the haredi community and said that no God-fearing Jew in the community would think about murder because of the political tensions.
Halbertal’s comments were “severe, unnecessary, totally unjustified and illogical and have caused a unparalleled desecration of Gods name and defamed the haredi community,” Gafni told haredi news website Kikar Hashabbat.
Fellow UTJ MK Ya’acov Asher said, however, that Yesh Atid was putting a political spin on the comments in order to gain political points.
“Lapid’s attempts to drum up support for his electoral needs won’t succeed, his hatred of haredim only unites and strengthens the haredi public,” said Asher.
“Don’t worry, you’ll soon return healthy and whole to your work as a commentator on Channel 2,” the MK added in reference to Lapid’s career as a journalist.