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Police Investigate Incitement Against Lapid, Bennett

Police Chief warns that hareidi death-threats taken 'very seriously'; Science Minister asks Shin Bet, Public Security Ministry to step in.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 2/26/2014, 5:00 PM

Lapid and Bennett (file)
Lapid and Bennett (file)
Flash90

Police Commissioner Yochanan Danino ordered that an investigation be started over incitement attempts against Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett Wednesday, after a picture began making the rounds on social media depicting the ministers as Nazis burning the Talmud. 

"Further publications implying an escalation of discrimination, against the hareidi community - which allegedly stems from the [Shaked Committee's debate over] the Equal Burden of Service Law - is something the Police Commissioner takes very seriously," a police statement noted Wednesday. Lahav 433 is investigating the incitement attempts. 

Lapid has been a particular target for the incitement attempts, the police believe, and Danino has also ordered the head of the unit to examine whether the Finance Minister needs extra security staff.

The order comes just hours after prominent attorney and rabbi Dov Halbertal declared on Galei Yisrael radio that Lapid would be "murdered" by hareidi dissidents over the moves to push for a draft, making comparisons to the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The statements prompted Science Minister Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) to turn to Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitz and Israeli Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) Director Yoram Cohen earlier Wednesday to act against the wave of incitement against Lapid.

"This is a criminal act," Peri noted in his letter to the two officials. "It's time to use your [judicial] authority [to stop it]." 

Peri added that he himself was shocked by Halbertal's statements, noting that he was "an important yeshiva student" and that the statements are bound to only exacerbate the already-high levels of incitement against Lapid and the Israeli government on the internet and social media. 

"This wild incitement and death threats will not prevent us from bringing the bill to a vote," Peri added. "This is a conceptual revolution, and the hareidi community needs to get used to the idea of integrating into Israeli society." 

The new law to enact a mandatory hareidi draft was brought back into the public eye following a High Court ruling suspending funding to yeshivas whose students had their enlistment deferred. That postponement was ordered by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon to give the Shaked Committee time to finish its work.

While the ruling was thought to be meaningless, given that February's yeshiva funds had already been allocated, Finance Minister Yair Lapid took advantage of a loophole to retroactively cancel funding to all yeshivas earlier this month, sparking massive hareidi protests.