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Security Services on Alert for Attacks Against Ministers


As Israel’s election campaign gets under way, security officials have stepped up the protection of Cabinet ministers in the wake of reports that Jewish militants are planning attacks against them.

At the weekly Cabinet meeting, Internal Security Minister Moshe Shahal said security officials had received information that right-wing Jewish militants had targeted a number of ministers, including Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Environment Minister Yossi Sarid and Shahal himself.

Further underscoring fears for the lives of leading Israeli officials, Peres’ daughter, Zvia Valden, told Israel Radio this week that she had received an anonymous telephone call warning that her father would be assassinated.

A number of ministers blamed Israel’s right wing for the atmosphere of threats.

“We have returned to the incitement of the days of Zion Square,” Trade Minister Michael Harish was quoted as saying, in a reference to a Likud rally last year in which posters were displayed of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in a Gestapo uniform.

Harsh right-wing rhetoric against Rabin’s peace policies with the Palestinians was cited last year for creating the charged political atmosphere in which the Nov. 4 assassination of Rabin took place.

A senior security source told the Israeli daily Ha’aretz that in light of the latest warnings of possible attacks against Cabinet ministers, security around them had been stepped up and specific instructions for their protection had been given.

A security official was quoted as saying that protection units of the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, had been given explicit instructions to keep “hot-headed youths” away from ministers during rallies and tours across the country in the election campaign.

Security and intelligence sources have in recent days collected extensive material – including pamphlets and graffiti – denouncing Peres, Shahal and Sarid.

Some of the graffiti had been found scrawled on walls in Bnei Brak, Ashkelon and Safed.

In addition to the planned attacks on ministers, security and intelligence officials have also been alerted to plans by extreme right-wing groups to attack Arabs in an attempt to sabotage the elections.

In another development, one of the Israelis charged with conspiracy to assassinate Rabin wrote in a letter that Peres had been marked for death because he was endangering Jewish lives with his peace policies.

The letter by Dror Adani was published Monday by the Israeli daily Ma’ariv.

The letter was seized by a prison guard during a search of Adani’s cell, according to the newspaper.

“Any person who endangers the lives of Jews must know that he is putting his own life in danger,” Adani wrote.

Similar reasoning was expressed by Yigal Amir, the 25-year-old law student who confessed to the Rabin assassination.

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