Israel’s Attorney General Files Police Complaint Over ‘Apparently Organized’ Threats

Among the texts sent to Mendelblit were calls for him to commit suicide, as well as threats such as 'You're vulnerable,' and 'We'll get to you'

Netael Bandel
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Avichai Mendelblit at the Knesset, February 4, 2020
Avichai Mendelblit at the Knesset, February 4, 2020Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Netael Bandel

Israel's attorney general, Avichai Mendelblit, gave a testimony on Wednesday to the police after receiving threats on his personal phone over the last 24 hours, the Justice Ministry said.

>> Explained: Why Israel’s attorney general believes Netanyahu is out to destroy him

These messages, which were apparently organized, were sent all throughout the night and the early morning hours. They included threats, incitements and invectives, the ministry said in a statement. The ministry's security officer has been briefed, the statement added.

A screenshot from a WhatsApp group of Likud activists seen by Haaretz showed a member sharing Mendelblit's number and calling on others to harass him with questions.

Among the texts sent to Mendelblit were calls for him to commit suicide, as well as threats such as "You're vulnerable," and "We'll get to you."

One of the activists who was summoned for questioning told Haaretz that "The messages we sent were a legitimate protest in a democratic state. We told the attorney general what we think of him and his conduct."

He claimed that if someone threatened Mendelblit, "It was certainly not me who asked for it, I didn't want this to happen, and definitely did not threaten him myself."

In February, Haaretz reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was attempting to dig up dirt on Mendelblit, who had charged him with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three criminal cases. His trial is due to begin on May 24.

Orit Korin, the chair of Israel's Bar Association, called the threats a "crossing of all the red lines," and said a clear and decisive condemnation from the Netanyahu and the justice ministry was imperative. 

"I expect elected officials to make their voices heard loud and clear before blood is shed," she said, pledging that the Bar Association will act with every means at its disposal to protect the lives of Israel's gatekeepers.

Earlier this week, outgoing Justice Minister Amir Ohana asked the state comptroller to launch an inquiry into the state prosecution and Mendelblit because of what he described as the undermining of the public’s trust in them.

During a meeting Sunday, Ohana presented State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman with a number of issues, including Mendelblit’s role in the so-called Harpaz affair nearly decade ago, which involved the choosing of the next military chief. Another issue was leaks to the media that Ohana said came from the Justice Ministry.

Sources say Englman is not inclined to address most of the topics Ohana raised at the meeting. Englman does not believe there is any need to reopen the Harpaz case, because his predecessors looked into it and a thorough report was published, the sources say.

Englman was not presented with any new information in the case; staff members had already heard the recordings from the office of former military chief Gabi Ashkenazi, now a Kahol Lavan legislator. This includes conversations nearly a decade ago with Mendelblit, chief military advocate general at the time.

One of those conversations, banned from publication by the Supreme Court, was referred to by Channel 13 journalist Ayala Hasson over the weekend.