Gantz: I change phones because of incitement from Left, not Right

The defense minister said he has received extra security for years because of death threats.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Tuesday that he receives more death threats from the Left than the Right and has to constantly change his phone as a result of the incitement.

Speaking at the Israel Democracy Conference, Gantz said, “I change my phone every two months, and with pain I say that it’s because of attacks from the Left and not from the Right.”

The leader of the Blue and White party noted that he had extra security assigned to him ever since he agreed to join the Likud in the short-lived national unity government in 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic swept into Israel.

“With the establishment of the government, Knesset members couldn’t enter various institutions and I received threats on my life,” he said.

Israel’s democratic ideals are under threat, he said.

“The toxic atmosphere in the country is unacceptable, and it stems first of all from the non-acceptance of the democratic rules of the game, and the incitement trickles down to the field,” he added, saying that he fears for the lives of MKs as well as civilians who aren’t protected like him.

While saying that “we all have to internalize that hitting the keyboard could be half the distance to squeezing the trigger,” he took a verbal shot at the government’s opponents, chief among them former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The Opposition also has responsibility,” he said, “as does the head of the Opposition. Whoever doesn’t realize it is abusing his position.”

Gantz also spent some time castigating the right wing, equating the actions of highly nationalistic, mostly teenaged youth who live in Judea and Samaria to the dangers posed to the state by Arab terrorism.

“We have recently seen a number of worrying cases of nationalist crime,” he said. ”Stone throwing, uprooting of trees, and use of violence are phenomena that we won’t accept or make peace with. There are clear instructions to engage with the rioters, whomever they may be,” he said, to a smattering of applause.

A special unit has just been authorized by the government to deal with the hilltop youth, he added, and he intends to conduct in the coming days “comprehensive discussions with all relevant bodies and order a string of actions to increase law enforcement” against them.

“There will be no tolerance of terrorism or troubles from any side,” he said.

Sponsors of the conference included the left-leaning Haaretz daily and the New Israel Fund, which financially backs pro-Palestinian and Israel-bashing groups such as Breaking the Silence, Machsom Watch and B’Tselem, among other organizations.