Israeli Justice Minister: Attacks on Ya’alon Are Incitement, There’s No Place for Them

Ayelet Shaked sees no connection between right-wing political campaign against defense minister and online threats against him.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.
Emil Salman

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Saturday that an online attack against Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was “serious incitement which is intolerable.” Shaked was referring to an image of Ya’alon circulated on social media with a red target around his head and the caption “politically liquidated.”

Shaked told Channel 2 television, “Recently at least two indictments have been served every week for online incitement. The virtual world is not a no-man’s land. When people write incitement on the Internet they should be aware they can be arrested and end up in prison.”

However, Shaked said she saw no connection between the political attacks launched by ministers from her party, Habayit Hayehudi, on the defense minister and the incitement against him online.

“I understood that those behind those attacks are Likud activists,” she said in the interview to Channel 2.

The inciting pictures targeting Ya’alon were distributed on Likud Whatsapp groups following the defense minister’s criticism of the soldier who had shot dead a wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron two weeks ago. Sources close to Ya’alon said the pictures were passed on to the Shin Bet security service, which is in charge of his protection.

A photo distributed on Likud's WhatsApp group calling for Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's political assassination.
Screenshot

On Saturday Ya’alon referred to the inciting pictures posted by Likud activists, saying “I have no intention of caving in in the struggle over Israel and Israeli society’s image. After all kinds of marginal extremist elements tried to turn me into an enemy of the state, it’s time for the next stage, which shouldn’t surprise anyone – disseminating incitement-filled pictures against me. It won’t do them any good.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the online incitement against Ya’alon was “improper and crosses a red line. A public debate must be conducted in a respectful, businesslike manner and there’s no place in it for this kind of incitement.”

Ya’alon is the only right-wing politician who has spoken firmly and resolutely against the conduct of the soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian and criticized the political and public campaign calling the shooter a hero. In contrast, Netanyahu and Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett called the soldier’s family to “strengthen” its spirit.

Shaked blasted what she called the “kangaroo court” being held against the shooter, while MKs Avigdor Lieberman and Oren Hazan showed up at the military court to demonstrate their support for him.