Man arrested for threatening to kill Bennett in comment on post on troop’s death

A resident of southern Israel was arrested by police Monday night over a threat he made online against Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Police said the 23-year-old resident of Ashkelon was detained over a Facebook comment in which he made “death threats against an elected official.”

Reports said the suspect had commented on Bennett’s post expressing condolences to the family of Barel Hadaria Shmueli, a Border Police officer who died on Monday after being shot on the Gaza border during violent protests nine days earlier.

“Investigators located the suspect at his home, and he was brought in for questioning on suspicion of threats,” the police said.

Later on Tuesday, he is to be brought before a local court where police will request an extension to his remand.

Thousands of mourners turned out on Monday night for Shmueli’s funeral, with some leveling sharp and angry criticism at Israeli authorities, including Bennett.

The mother of Border Police officer Barel Hadaria Shmueli speaks at his funeral in Tel Aviv on August 30, 2021. Shmueli died nine days after being shot in the head during riots on the Gaza border. (Police spokesperson)

“They said they didn’t know that the terrorist was hiding a gun in his underwear. I am calling out to the entire world, the government of Israel, the IDF, the Israel Police, the Border Police — I want someone to tell me — when does a terrorist come with baklava, with sweets? Tell me when, when?!” said his mother, Nitza Shmueli.

Nitza reiterated her criticism of the prime minister, calling him “a waste for the State of Israel,” as the crowd booed at the mention of his name.

Bennett has been subject to intense protests and a range of threats, even before taking office.

In May, before he became prime minister, the Knesset Guard boosted both Bennett’s personal security and that posted outside his home after a series of threats.

Later that month, police investigated threats made against Bennett on social media, including images circulating of him wearing an Arab headdress with the caption “the liar” — similar to those shared of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin before his assassination.

Last week, another resident of the south was detained for questioning over apparent threats against the prime minister. But the individual was released following the questioning with restrictions on his movements.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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