Former Pilot Investigated Over Post Calling to Assassinate Netanyahu

Ze’ev Raz speaks during a protest against an agreement reached between the government and large energy companies over natural gas production, in Tel Aviv, in 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90, File)

Amid public outrage and a rare rebuke by the Shin Ben, former IAF fighter pilot Ze’ev Raz was interrogated by the Israel Police on Sunday over alleged incitement after posting online comments that suggested it was legitimate to kill Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Raz had written that if Netanyahu’s proposed judicial reforms lead him to “assume dictatorial powers” it was incumbent upon Israelis to assassinate him, drawing condemnation across the board and forcing Raz to eventually walk back those statements in a later post.

The issue of threats against public officials has become a source of much concern in the wake of the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, whose detractors used incendiary language against him that in some cases amounted to actual threats.

Raz, a former colonel who also took part in the 1981 bombing of Iran’s nuclear reactor, said that his post was merely a quote of another individual and that unfortunately, some attributed it to him. He stressed that he was against it and therefore took it down.

He was later released “under the appropriate guarantees,” police said without elaborating.

Netanyahu also lashed out against the post “red lines are being crossed daily, and I expect law enforcement agencies to take action on the matter.” He warned that vigorous debate is important but such comments are “a threat to democracy.” The Shin Bet, which is tasked with protecting public officials, warned that it would have “zero tolerance” for such threatening language.

Also on Sunday, police announced that they are currently questioning lawyer David Hodek on suspicion of incitement to violence.

Hodek was called in by investigators after saying at the bar association’s annual conference last week that “if someone forces me to live in a dictatorship and I have no choice, I won’t hesitate to use live fire.”

He later apologized for the remark, which made headlines and indicated that the rancorous national debate over judicial reform could lead to violence.

Police chief Kobi Shabtai said the force would maintain a “zero tolerance” policy regarding such remarks, whether on social media posts, during protest demonstrations or other events.

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