Israeli cabinet ministers on Sunday demanded a strong response from law enforcement over inciteful calls throughout the weekend against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other cabinet and coalition members over their intention to reform Israel's judicial system.
Netanyahu himself said in a statement to the press at the start of Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting that he expected the opposition leaders to "condemn and denounce" the inciters. The prime minister drew a line between some statements by members of the opposition and the growing severity of the inciteful calls. While there was a legitimate argument about what constituted a strengthening of democracy, all sides agreed that political assassinations were not part of that, Netanyahu added.
"It is time the Left learned to lose a democratic election. They are trying to burn the country, to destroy and ruin. This cannot happen."Transport Minister Miri Regev
The ministers specifically mentioned retired fighter pilot Ze'ev Raz's call on Facebook to kill Netanyahu, along with his ministers and followers if they turn the country into a dictatorship; senior attorney and Yom Kippur War hero David Hodak's comments on Wednesday that he would "have no choice but to use live fire" if forced to live in a dictatorship; and Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai's warning at a demonstration on Saturday night that a harsh reform would draw harsh reactions and that eventually "words will turn to deeds."
Many protest leaders and opposition MKs condemned the remarks, including opposition leader MK Yair Lapid, former defense minister Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon, former Aliyah and integration minister and current national Unity MK Pnina Tamano-Shata,
Likud MK Hanoch Milvetsky filed a police complaint against Hodak last week, and Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi on Sunday morning filed a complaint against both Hodak and Raz. The police opened an investigation in both cases, and Raz was detained on Sunday morning for questioning.
Both Hodak and Raz apologized on social media and retracted their comments. Hodak claimed that he had not been understood and that he opposed any form of violence, and Raz said that in his comments he was quoting someone else and that he did not support what he wrote and erased the post.
Hodak's lawyer argued that while his client publicly apologized, the prime minister's son Yair Netanyahu had not done the same for calling a few weeks ago for members of the State Attorney's Office to "receive the penalty meant for traitors" (the death penalty) due to their indictment of his father.
Transportation Minister Miri Regev called on the Israel Police to immediately arrest Hodak, Raz and Huldai.
"It is time the Left learned to lose a democratic election. They are trying to burn the country, to destroy and ruin. This cannot happen," Regev said to the press prior to the Sunday cabinet meeting.
Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis said to the press ahead of the meeting that he expected that law enforcement would treat these cases with a heavy hand.
The Shin-Bet and State Attorney's Office issued rare statements on Saturday night warning against the rise in severity of the public rhetoric.