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Israel Security Chief Warns of Capitol-Style Violence Amid Internal Political Turbulence

On 2 June, Israeli opposition leaders announced they had managed to set up a broad coalition that may oust current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been in power for 12 consecutive years.

The head of the Israeli security agency Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, on Saturday expressed concerns about a possible “serious radicalisation in incitement and discourse on social media” in Israel that can cause unrest, prompting comparisons with the Capitol mayhem in Washington, DC, on 6 January.

On 6 January, a large group of Donald Trump’s supporters besieged the US Capitol to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election, which the former POTUS blasted as “rigged”. US House Democrats impeached Trump for “inciting insurrection”, but he was eventually acquitted in the Senate.

Trump has repeatedly said that during his speech on 6 January he called on his supporters to protest peacefully and patriotically.

Argaman’s statement comes as the opposition prepares to unseat the country’s long-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli Security Chief Warns of 6 January-Style Violence Amid Domestic Political Turbulence

“We have recently identified a serious rise and radicalisation in violent and inciting discourse, specifically on social media”, he said in statement, cited by The Times of Israel.

Argaman noted that “this discourse may be interpreted among certain groups or individuals as one that allows violent and illegal activity and could even lead to harm to individuals”, referring to Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, the leaders of the right-wing Yamina alliance, which earlier joined the newly formed coalition. The politicians along with other coalition supporters have allegedly received threats from Netanyahu backers, prompting police to increase their security.

The current Israeli prime minister published a Facebook post on Friday that cited a story from the Bible, which compared his political rivals on the right to the spies Moses sent to tour the land of Canaan and that lied to the people when they returned. The spies were eventually punished by God and died of a plague.


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REUTERS / AMIR COHEN

A protester wearing a mask of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a t-shirt reading “Ceremony is over” gestures during a rally in support of a so-called government of “change”, a day after far-right party leader Naftali Bennett threw his crucial support behind a “unity government” in Israel to unseat Netanyahu, in Tel Aviv, Israel May 31, 2021

On 2 June, the Israeli opposition announced that it had managed to form a coalition government without Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yair Lapid, the leader of the country’s largest opposition party Yesh Atid, informed President Reuven Rivlin that he had successfully secured a majority of the parliament to his coalition and would establish a government. According to Lapid, the government will be composed of the factions that comprise it, including Yamina and Yesh Atid, as well as Blue and White, led by Benny Gantz; Yisrael Beytenu, led by Avigdor Lieberman; New Hope, led by Gideon Saar; Labour, led by Marav Michaeli; Meretz, led by Nitzan Horowitz; and Ra’am, or the United Arab List, led by Mansour Abbas.

Netanyahu’s time in office, which this time around started in 2009, has recently been marred by corruption accusations. He is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, and faces up to 10 years in prison. This has contributed to the political turmoil in the nation, seeing Israel go through four elections since April 2019. The latest election was held in March 2021, and the prime minister, who was given a mandate to form a government, failed to do so, prompting President Rivlin to hand the mandate to Netanyahu’s rival, Lapid.



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