PM: Netanyahu threatened to launch the army against me; I knew Omicron before South Africa

In a series of media interviews, coordinated and released at the same time, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett touts his handling of the coronavirus crisis, denounces opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and takes credit for saving the nation to “fall into the abyss”.

Bennett reminds Haaretz that Netanyahu began making savage threats against him once it became clear that Bennett would join his rivals in forming a government, pushing the longtime prime minister from power.

“You should know that I will send all my machinery against you, the army,” Bennett recalled, recalling Netanyahu telling him, noting that he made a dive-bombing motion with his arm. “I’ll send the drones after you, and we’ll see.”

Addressing Walla, he accuses Netanyahu of “sowing chaos, hysteria and lack of trust” in the government.

“Netanyahu has built one of the most effective propaganda machines of all time,” he says. “It invents stories at breakneck speed. You know, yesterday I found out that my mother was Catholic.

But he also tells Haaretz that he prefers Netanyahu to plead and avoid jail time, and expresses doubts about his government’s investigation into suspicions of corruption around a massive Netanyahu-backed submarine deal.

On the coronavirus, he tells Walla that Israel is doing better than anywhere else in the world, seemingly ignoring the record number of cases, rising hospitalization rates and a death toll that jumps by the dozens every day.

According to Our World in Data, Israel currently leads the world in intensive care admissions, relative to population.

Speaking to Ynet, Bennett notes that he was the first leader to ban air travel and also tells a story in which he was the first leader in the world to recognize the Omicron variant, even before South Africa.

“We recognized the extraordinary phenomenon even before the country where it was happening. I was the first leader in the world to inform the public about the Omicron phenomenon. At that time, the disease was not even there yet,” he says.

He claims that Israel built a “radar” to identify new variants early, but no details are included in the published part of the interview.

The full interviews are expected to be released on Friday.