Shin Bet: incitement against new Israeli government could end in bloodshed

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Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Director Nadav Argaman issued a rare public warning on Saturday sounding the alarm that the current atmosphere of incitement could lead to tragic bloodshed in Israel.

The statement was a rare public warning from Argaman, who traditionally gives such warnings in private to politicians who would then decide if and how to inform the public.

Argaman reportedly decided to make the statement on his own, not believing his warning would reach the public given that elements of the ruling Likud coalition – who may step down in the coming week – are believed to be behind certain incentives.

The rise of violent rhetoric has led the Shin Bet to begin providing security for Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, who will serve as prime minister for the first two years of the new coalition, assuming she receives the necessary approval to the Knesset. Another party member, Ayelet Shaked, also enjoys Knesset security.

“We have recently seen that the discourse of violence and incitement has increased and become more extreme, especially on social media,” Argaman said. “As head of the organization responsible for ensuring the maintenance of a democratic regime and institutions, I call and caution that this rhetoric could be interpreted by certain groups or individuals as endorsement of” violent and illegal activities that can even cause harm to people. . “

The director of the Shin Bet said politicians and public influencers from all walks of life, as well as religious leaders and educators, must condemn the language of incitement and violence.

“It is our duty to issue a clear and unreserved request for the immediate end of the violent and inciting rhetoric,” he continued. “The responsibility to restore a calmer atmosphere and a more sober speech rests on all of us. “

Over the past week, there has been a spike in threats on social media against Bennett, Shaked, Meretz MP Tamar Zandberg and the children of New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar.
Threats aren’t limited to social media. In some cases, people have burned effigies of politicians or posted fake images announcing that one of the MPs has already died.

On Thursday morning, Bennett’s protection details were increased to reflect his status as Prime Minister-designate.

Former Shin Bet chief Carmi Gilon is said to have given private warnings to then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the run-up to Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995.

Netanyahu then refrained from certain types of activities and associations, but did not condemn some of the extreme rhetoric used at the time by others against Rabin.

Netanyahu’s son Yair attacked Argaman, accusing the Shin Bet leader of trying to stop criticism from the left, but not acting as firmly to protect the Netanyahu family on the right.

The Knesset’s foreign affairs committee said it would hold an emergency hearing on the matter on Monday.

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