Israeli ex-fighter pilot sparks controversy over remarks that appear to justify assassinating prime minister

Ze'ev Raz took part in Israel's daring mission to bomb Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor


Zeev Raz speaks during a protest against a controversial agreement reached over the past few months between the government and large energy companies over natural gas production, in central Tel Aviv, on November 28, 2015. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ????? ????? ??? ??? ??,?????? ?? ???? ?????? ?? ???? ????? ????? ??? ???? ??? ????? ??? ?? ???? ???? ?? ???? ???? ????? ????? ???????? ???? ???? ????? ?????

A former Israeli fighter pilot who took part in the bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 has retracted social media comments appearing to justify the assassination of an Israeli prime minister.

Ze’ev Raz, who has been active in protests against the Israeli government;’s planned legal reforms, provoked an outcry when he posted on Facebook that a prime minister who assumed “dictatorial reforms” was “a dead man”.

But according to the Times of Israel, he deleted the post the next day after outrage at his previous remarks.

Mr Raz had reportedly cited the concept in Jewish religious law of din rodef, in which a preemptive strike can be legitimate against someone who is intent on harm.

He wrote that if a leader behaves “in a dictatorial way, there is an obligation to kill them,” the news site reported, although he did not mention Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu by name.

He had appeared to argue that allowing the judical reforms to go ahead could result in “a lot of innocent dead, and it is better to kill the criminals first”.

According to ToI, the following day he rowed back from the remarks, saying that he had been quoting someone else who had made them and that he had deleted his post when that person had deleted the reference to din rodef.

In response to Mr Raz’s original comments, Mr Netanyahu said there had been “ a growing wave of incitement. Lines are being crossed every day, and it seemed like every boundary had already been crossed in threats on elected officials and on me.

“But clearly not, because today we heard and saw a clear threat to murder the prime minister of Israel.”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid strongly condemned “the din rodef call against Netanyahu” while National Union leader Benny Gantz said, “No one has the license to incite, no matter how much they may have contributed to the country.”

According to ToI, Mr Raz was detained for questioning by police on Sunday over the remarks.

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