Israel PM’s family receives death threat and bullet in mail

JERUSALEM (AP) – The family of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has received a death threat and bullet in the mail for the second time this week, police said Thursday.

According to an Israeli official familiar with the matter, the target of the threats was Bennett’s 17-year-old son. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Officials have not said who might be behind the threats.

Bennett, who leads a small nationalist party, has come under heavy criticism from Israeli hard-liners who accuse him of abandoning his ideology. In 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish ultranationalist opposed to his peacemaking attempts with the Palestinians.

Also, tensions have been heightened with the Palestinians recently following a series of deadly Palestinian attacks in Israeli cities, Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

In a nationwide speech marking Israel’s Holocaust memorial day, Bennett lamented the deep polarization in Israeli society as he warned his citizens against letting internal divisions tear society apart.

“My brothers and sisters, we can not, we simply can not allow the same dangerous gene of factionalism dismantle Israel from within,” Bennett said in Wednesday night’s ceremony, broadcast on national TV.

Bennett’s speech, coming on one of Israel’s most solemn days of the year, came in a deeply personal context. On Tuesday, his family received the first letter with a live bullet and a death threat. Israeli authorities tightened security around the prime minister and his family and were investigating.

That prompted his son’s oldest son Yoni to write on Instagram how upsetting the episode had been.

“It’s just sad to see that real people write such horrible things,” he said. “To think that he lives and breathes like me but has a brain that was created by the devil is crazy.”

Israeli media said Yoni, who is 17, was the target of Thursday’s threats.

Police have said they are investigating both incidents. They have placed a gag order on the investigations and released few details.

Bennett leads a narrow coalition that recently lost its parliamentary majority. His government is made up of eight parties that have little in common beyond their shared animosity to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Netanyahu, now the opposition leader, has worked hard to deepen divisions within the coalition.

Bennett’s government was formed after four inconclusive elections, underscoring the fissures in society over key issues, including the conflict with the Palestinians and relations between religious and secular Jews.

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