By YAAKOV KATZ, JPOST.COM STAFF
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday night responded to the death threats he has received since the government imposed a freeze on new settlement construction in the West Bank, saying he does not fear for his life.
Speaking at a Tel Aviv conference, he said, "I am not afraid of anything or anyone, and that goes for the threats as well."
Regarding a letter that was revealed Tuesday night on Channel 10, he said, "I didn't see [that specific letter], it was sent straight to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) like other letters."
The writer had threatened to kill Barak if he takes action against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. "If you are thinking of destroying the settlements you are wrong - I will murder you," the letter read. "I will hurt you or your children, beware. If not now, then when you are no longer a minister and have no security."
On Tuesday, defense officials said that numerous letters have been sent to the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv since the cabinet decision in late November, including direct threats against Barak's life.
Officials said that the letters were reviewed by the Defense Ministry's security team and then given to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), which has launched an investigation and has since beefed up Barak's security detail.
According to defense officials, the number of security guards surrounding Barak has "doubled," and he is currently being protected at the same level as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
"No one is taking any chances with this," explained one official. "Security has been doubled and precautions are being taken."
Israel Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen has also received threats on his life and has had his security detail increased.
Officials from the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, which is responsible for distributing the stop-work orders, have also received threats.
According to some assessments within the defense establishment, there are several dozen settlers in the West Bank who are prepared to use violence to thwart the evacuation of a settlement.
Within this group of several dozen, in turn, there are believed to be a small handful who would be prepared to target politicians to stop a withdrawal.
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