After Supreme Court Justice Receives Death Threats, Gantz Vows to Protect Gatekeepers

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Benny Gantz arriving for the new government's swearing-in ceremony, May 2020.
Benny Gantz arriving for the new government's swearing-in ceremony, May 2020.Credit: Alex Kolomoisky

Defense Minister Benny Gantz condemned on Sunday death threats sent to Supreme Court Justice Anat Baron by mail on Tuesday, and promised to maintain the independence of the justice system and stand up to such incitements as a "fortified wall."

On a visit to the Justice Department, Gantz said "the murky atmosphere and harsh words used against the judges and gatekeepers is dangerous to society." Gantz said he visited the Justice Ministry "because this office is the backbone of the entirety of Israeli democracy."

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He continued by addressing Justice Department employees: "I know that some of those present in the room used to walk around feeling safe, or maybe you still do." Adding, "Your legal opinions protect soldiers and us politicians, safeguard human rights, and allow lawmakers and ministers to achieve their goals in a straightforward way, while maintaining strict adherence to the law and avoiding public corruption."

A Supreme Court justice received death threats in the mail over the weekend, according to a police complaint filed by the Court's Guard Sunday.

According to Israel Police, the letter arrived on Friday at Justice Anat Baron's home. The police launched a probe into the matter, and  a security detail was assigned to Baron.

Many on the right have taken issue with what they see as the Supreme Court's left-wing ideological leanings, which, they argue, have colored their judgement. 

Opposition head Yair Lapid, who split from Kahol Lavan after Benny Gantz decided to join a Netanyahu-led government, wrote on Twitter that "the threat to the Supreme Court justice is a direct result of the incitement that comes from Netanyahu. It is done in his name."

Netanyahu also issued a condemnation, saying that "zero patience must be shown to anyone who threatens to murder judges and public servants."

Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Benny Gantz at a government meeting in May. Will he help Benjamin Netanyahu "climb down" from the annexation tree?Credit: Emil Salman

He likened Baron's fate to his own, saying that "just this month, I filed three police complaints after I received murder threats against me and my family. I urge the police to act quickly and forcefully to eliminate incitement - it has no place among us."

Last month, the justice ministry assigned a security detail to Deputy State Prosecutor Liat Ben Ari, after Israel Police expressed concerns that she could come under attack from Netanyahu supporters. Ben Ari is the chief prosecutor in the trial the prime minister is currently facing.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit also filed a complaint with police last month about disturbing and threatening messages that he said were "probably organized." Messages such as "Suicide," "You Are Vulnerable," and "We'll Get You," were sent to the consultant after a call from groups of right-wing activists was issued to harass him. 

Justice Anat Baron in the Supreme Court, Jerusalem, November 3, 2019.Credit: Oren Ben Hakoon

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