Photo: Flash90

Security intensified after Bennett receives death threats

A letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his family included death threats and a live bullet, according to a statement TV7 obtained from his office.

By Erin Viner

Officials at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem acted immediately reinforce the security responsible for protecting the Israeli leader and family.

Prime Minister Bennett is married, and the couple has four children.

The Israel Police Lahav 433 Special Criminal Investigations Unit and the Israel Security Agency (ISA, also known as the Shin Bet) have launched a joint investigation into the incident, said police.

While a court-imposed gag order has prohibited many details of the case from being published, it is known that the letter was sent to a building next to the Bennett home in the central city of Ra’anana where he has been based rather than the official Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.

The letter addressed to the Bennett family according to a Channel 12 news report, and it is not known when it was mailed.

While no motive has yet been determined for the threat, it has been inferred that it was political rather than nationalistic.

“I’m the Prime Minister and a political figure, but I’m also a husband and father and it’s my duty to protect my wife and children,” Bennett wrote on Twitter, adding, “We must lower the temperature on the political discourse.”

Israeli Foreign Minister and Alternate Israeli Premier Yair Lapid condemned the threat, saying in a Twitter post that it demonstrated “where hatred can lead.” He went on to vow that, “We’ll continue to fight the discourse of hate in the street, on social media, everywhere. They won’t intimate us. The extremists won’t defeat the sane majority.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz also denounced the letter as “the crossing of a red line.” The top Israeli defense official also revealed that “a bullet in an envelope can turn into three bullets fired from a pistol.”

This marks the latest of a series of threats against Prime Minister Bennett.

A resident of the coastal city of Ashkelon was arrested for issuing a threat in a Facebook post and a citizen in the south was detained for questioning under similar circumstances last August.

The Knesset Guard also bolstered security for Bennett and his family in May 2021 amid several threats, just one month before he was inaugurated as Prime Minister. Several posts on social media at that time published images of Bennett in an Arab head covering labelled “Liar,” closely mirroring posters circulated of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ahead of his assassination by a rightwing extremist in 1995.