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Israeli security chief warns of Jan. 6-type violence ahead of new government

The director of Israel’s domestic security service, the Shin Bet, warned on Saturday of growing incitement that could lead to politically motivated violence.

Why it matters: Nadav Argaman's rare public statement raised concerns about the threat of a Jan. 6-style attack in Israel to prevent a peaceful transition of power if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ousted after 12 years in office.

Driving the news: Netanyahu on Friday published a Facebook post 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 the returned.

  • According to the Bible, the spies received a punishment from God and died of a plague.
  • Netanyahu’s right wing rivals who are part of the “change government” – mainly Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett and his party members — have been the subject of social media attacks in recent days by Netanyahu’s supporters.
  • Netanyahu’s backers demonstrated in front of their houses and sent them text messages with death threats.
  • The Shin Bet decided to give Bennett a security detail even though he hasn't assumed office yet. And the police boosted security for several of members of his party.

What they are saying: A day after Netanyahu’s Facebook post, the Shin Bet director released a statement warning against “serious radicalization in incitement and discourse on social media.”

  • Argaman said the incitement could be interpreted by groups or individuals as an approval to use violence. He called on Israeli politicians to publicly ask for calm and denounce violence.
  • Shortly after the Shin Bet director’s statement, Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son, attacked him on Twitter. “The is a disgrace. They are trying to shut the mouths of the right and label every political criticism as incitement,” he wrote.

What’s next: The Knesset on Monday will convene for a special session to announce that opposition leader Yair Lapid managed to form a government. The vote of confidence in the new government is expected to take place on June 14.

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