Knesset Orders Guards for Legislator Berated by Far-rightists

MK Erel Margalit says someone is liable to pay for his opinions with his life, and ultimately blames Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Labor lawmaker Erel Margalit in Knesset, June 24, 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

Speaker Yuli Edelstein has ordered the Knesset to assign security for MK Erel Margalit (Zionist Union) amid threats against him on social media after he voiced opposition to pardoning an Israeli soldier was found guilty of manslaughter in a landmark case.

The police was expected on Friday to investigate threatening comments made against the lawmaker on social media. 

Edelstein urged Israel's lawmakers and public figures to stand up to incitement against Knesset members, military personnel and officials in the justice system.

Margalit wrote on his Facebook page that he knew he would pay a price when he filed a petition to the High Court of Justice for a corruption investigation into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and when he opposed a pardon for Sgt. Elor Azaria.

On Wednesday, a military court found Azaria guilty of manslaughter for killing a Palestinian assailant who was already wounded on the ground.

That day, Margalit published on Facebook a screenshot of a threatening tweet directed at him, which said: “I would be very glad if they strapped you into an electric chair you stinking leftist. But your children will be destroyed, and then let’s see how you react, you filthy piece of garbage.”

As Margalit wrote, “If this guy has any courage, let him come and say to my face what he’s saying here about me and my dear ones.” He said these “Facebook heroes” were “a miserable bunch of cowards who only know how to curse, and never in their lives have they done anything for the country.”

He called them “a group of cowards who are zeroes compared to the people they’re cursing, people like Bogie and Eisenkot, heroes on the battlefield,” referring to former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Gadi Eisenkot.

Using Netanyahu’s nickname, Margalit called his critics “Bibi’s abandoned children. And he is responsible for them. So if you’re really heroes, come on, face to face. Just don’t go crying afterwards.”

As Margalit put it, “the responsibility for the incitement lies squarely with the prime minister, who instead of condemning calls to murder the chief of staff issued a statement against the court’s ruling after the verdict. If we don’t wake up, someone is going to pay for his opinions with his life.”