'Violent Incitement': Top Israeli Health Official Under Serious Threat From Anti-vaxxers

The Health Ministry's director of public health, Sharon Alroy-Preis, is at high-risk of being targeted for harm, Israel Police say

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Public health director Sharon Alroy-Preis
Public health director Sharon Alroy-PreisCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The police consider the Health Ministry’s director of public health, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, as a high-level potential target for harm. She has been a prominent spokesperson on the importance of being vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Police rate the threat level against her at four on a scale from one to six, with six representing the highest threat.

On Thursday, Alroy-Preis’ husband, Meir Preis, urged the police to take action against those threatening her. For his part, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on the police to stop what he called the “fake news war by vaccine opponents” against Alroy-Preis and others.

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Alroy-Preis’ high threat level designation follows what the police consider credible intelligence about plans to harm her or those around her. She has been a focus of criticism by vaccine opponents, some of whom have even called on social media for her to be physically attacked. She is slated to meet with a police officer on Friday regarding security measures.

Meir Preis tweeted at the Police: “You know this. There are statements on social media, there are phone numbers, there are explicit threatening calls. You have the material. This is the time for action – now, before it’s too late.” Relatives of Alroy-Preis have filed three separate police complaints over the threats against her.

The Health Ministry said in a statement that “the violent incitement on social media against Dr. Alroy-Preis must stop immediately.” The head of the Israel Medical Association, Prof. Zion Hagay, added, “We must not let this pass quietly.”

Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev also spoke out, saying, “There’s no place for this kind of language against anyone, and certainly not against a devoted public servant and expert in her field such as Dr. Alroy-Preis.”

With almost 4 million people having received a COVID vaccination booster shot in Israel, the fourth wave of the pandemic is largely on the retreat. As a result, Israel rescinded restrictions on outdoor gatherings on Wednesday and will also open up to foreign tourists from November 1, subject to cabinet approval.

On Thursday, the Health Ministry reported 236 serious cases of coronavirus in the country, the lowest figure in ten weeks. Just 12 percent of the seriously ill in Israel were fully vaccinated against the virus. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, 8,081 people have died of COVID in Israel.

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