An unidentified Israeli man was arrested and taken into custody on Monday after the individual allegedly threatened to murder Yair Lapid, the chairman of Israel’s Yesh Atid party, police officials have revealed.
The 30-year-old individual hails from the Israeli city of Bet Shemesh in the Jerusalem District, and was detained by law enforcement authorities after posting threatening messages on an undisclosed social media platform. Officials indicated that the man had vowed to kill Lapid, even with the threat of imprisonment facing him.
According to The Times of Israel, the detainee made the concerning remarks online when he was outside of the country. It’s believed the individual may have been one of many who were stranded abroad as part of Israel's strict COVID-19 restrictions, which have been slowly lifted in light of Tuesday’s highly anticipated election.
After having been tipped off to the incident, officials investigated the matter further and ultimately took him into custody moments after he flew into Israel earlier on Monday. Authorities have not yet indicated where the suspect was when the comments were first published.
In response to the developments, Lapid remarked that the reports would not hold him back ahead of the election, underscoring that “no one is going to scare us.”
“The culture of hatred, division, and incitement will be replaced by a sane government that will unify all Israeli citizens,” Lapid said in a statement obtained by the Times. “It all depends on you. Go vote and let sanity triumph.”
Local media reports state the suspect will be undergoing further questioning, and be brought before the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday. Police are expected to request the court grant an extension for the individual’s detention.
The online posts were not the first ever directed toward Lapid, according to The Jerusalem Post, which reported that the opposition leader experienced similar circumstances in 2012 and in 2013.
This latest incident came amid a heated election cycle that has seen multiple violent altercations break out between supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and those of his opponents. In fact, violence by Netanyahu supporters has seen an uptick as anti-Netanyahu protests have been held on a weekly basis.
The election, however, is likely to continue to cause a stir among Israeli residents, as recent polls suggest that running candidates will miss the 61-seat requirement to form a government.