Israeli Supreme Court Justice Assigned Security Detail After Receiving Death Threats

Netanyahu says 'zero patience must be shown to anyone who threatens judges,' while justice minister says incitement against the judicial system jeopardizes Israel's resilience

Netael Bandel
Josh Breiner
Bar Peleg
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Justice Anat Baron in the Supreme Court, Jerusalem, November 3, 2019.
Justice Anat Baron in the Supreme Court, Jerusalem, November 3, 2019.Credit: Oren Ben Hakoon
Netael Bandel
Josh Breiner
Bar Peleg

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

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"This is a direct result of continued incitement against the judiciary and its judges," the Israeli jusidical authority said. "Attempts to intimidate Israeli judges will not deter them and they will continue to do their job fearlessly."

"The ongoing attack on the judicial system is dangerous - and jeopardizes the resilience of the State of Israel," Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn said.

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."

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."

Economy Minister Amir Peretz (Labor) also condemned the threats, adding that "when there are threats to judges and threats to journalists - Israeli democracy is shaking."

Peretz said this was the "result of a public atmosphere that we, the elected officials, have to change."

Netanyahu, surrounded by Likud ministers, speaks at the opening of his trial, May 24, 2020.
Netanyahu, surrounded by Likud ministers, speaks at the opening of his trial, May 24, 2020.Credit: AFP

The head of the Israeli Bar Association, Avi Haimi, said he "strongly condemns" the threats. "Judges and law enforcement officials are doing holy work in maintaining democracy and any attempt to intimidate them is another red line," he said. "We must act quickly and put an end to this delusional phenomenon. I urge the Israeli police to act resolutely to locate the letter's senders."

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. 

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."

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