Israeli Arab MKs Face Growing Wave of Death Threats

Group calling itself Pulsa Denura casts death curse against MK Ahmed Tibi, who received threatening phone calls a day earlier; colleague Talab al-Sana also subjected to death threats.

Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi on Monday received a threatening letter, apparently from far-rightists, claiming that he had only "180 days to live" and that his death would be "sudden and cruel".

The letter from a group dubbing itself "Pulsa Denura" was the second death threat received by the United Arab List MK in the last two days. The group's name derives from the Aramaic phrase 'whip of fire', a death curse far-rightists have in the past issued against former prime ministers, Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon.

Olivier Pitussi

"Because of your poisonous stance against Israel and Zionism, the management of this group has issued a pulsa denura against you," claimed the letter. "You have 180 days to live. Your death will be sudden and cruel, accompanied by great pain it is time to prepare your will. Your friend in terrorist organization will be happy to prepare an infirmary for the last days of your life."

Tibi responded to the letter by accusing his right-wing colleagues of inciting the threats, and lodged a complaint with Knesset security.

The "pulsa denura threat" came just a day after Tibi received a number of voice messages on his cellular phone, in Hebrew, telling him: "Your days are numbered dirty Arab. I promise you, your days are numbered. You and all Arabs will die. If a dear prime minister can be murdered, what is it to kill you?"

United Arab List chairman Talab al-Sana also received death threats on Monday, apparently from members of the public angered by his reaction to Israel's raid on a Gaza-bound aid convoy.

Sana's office received an anonymous fax message reading "you're dead". The MK also lodged a complaint with Knesset authorities after suffering verbal abuse as he entered the parliament building in Jerusalem.

Last week the UAL party leader caused anger among Israelis when he compared navy commandos to Nazis after an Israel Defense Force raid on the 'Mavi Marmara', a Turkish protest ship, left nine activists dead.

In response to the threats, Sana accused the political right-wingers of inciting hatred. Sana said the atmosphere in Israel reminded him of the eve of the assassination of Rabin, a prime minister gunned down by a Jewish extremist in 1996.

"Rabin fell victim to the Right and to its thoughtless campaign of hatred," Sana said.

He added: "The nation faces a leadership crisis and the public is venting its anger on the [Arab] minority in its midst. This process has happened in other countries, where right-wing fascist extremists have exploited the mood of crisis to take control of government.

Sana's comments came as a Knesset's committee on Monday recommended revoking the parliamentary privileges of Hanin Zuabi MK, who was aboard one of the flotilla ships during the raid last week..

"We won't be a punching bag for anyone who is frustrated with the state," Sana said.