Netanyahu at risk of assassination? Ex-Shin Bet chief says threat is real

“We need to prevent another disaster like the assassination of Rabin,” said the former Shin Bet chief.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Is Israel’s prime minister in danger of facing an assassination attempt?

Yaakov Peri, former head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, believes so. In an interview with Israel’s 103FM on Monday he said, “There is an atmosphere today that could lead to political assassination.”

“Without getting into questions right now of whether the prime minister is doing his job well or not, we are without a doubt in an atmosphere that could lead an individual or individuals to think that murdering or eliminating the prime minister could make things better for the country,” Peri said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been the target of increasing personal threats as protests against the government, including in front of his official Jerusalem residence, have turned violent.

On Sunday, in a letter to the current Shin Bet director, Nadav Argaman, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri wrote: “As a former member of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s government, I cannot sit idly by vis-à-vis the alarming incitement and calls to physically harm Netanyahu and his family.”

On Nov. 4, 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was killed by right-wing assassin Yigal Amir. Rabin’s death has been blamed on the rising incitement against him prior to the assassination.

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“We can never again say we didn’t know; that our hands are not stained with blood. … I’m aware of the fact you [Argaman] and the Shin Bet are making great efforts to protect the prime minister and his family, but I will be remiss in my public duty if I do not warn of what may come and do everything to ensure we spare no effort to prevent such a catastrophe,” Deri wrote.

Peri agreed with the assessment. Though he noted there were differences between the situation then and now, “the results could really be the same, it could result in political murder.”

The Likud party is worried that threats to Netanyahu are not being taken seriously enough. Justice Minister Amir Ohana sent a caustic letter to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit over the weekend in reply to one Mandelblit sent.

“Your smug letter indicates that you are not taking my request about the growing threats to the lives of the prime minister and his family seriously,” Ohana wrote.

“We are talking about life and death… in a public arena that is already restive, we are now hearing explicit calls to kill the prime minister and his family. These are blatant, explicit calls, unlike what is known as ‘the incitement that led up to the murder of Yitzhak Rabin,'” he said.

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“”We are not talking about hints, but explicit, sometimes graphic, threats to his life,” Ohana said.

Peri said the prime minister needs extra security. “The personal security around him is very tight, but we know that security alone can’t prevent a carefully planned murder,” Peri told 103FM.

“A potential murderer can find a crack and carry out his plans. No security is 100 percent or hermetic. That’s why security needs to be tightened around the prime minister and his family. It’s good for us to acknowledge that, and it’s good to speak publicly about this, and it’s good for the media to be dealing with this,” he said.

He needs more security to fill in “the cracks,” he said.

Peri served as Shin Bet chief from 1988 to 1994.