Polls opened across the country in Israel on Tuesday morning, as voters are largely expected to choose between incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his opposition, Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz. A final poll published on Friday gave the right-wing Likud Prime Minister a solid lead over the centre-left opposition Kahol Lavan’s Benny Gantz. Below are the latest updates, all times in BST.
1.35pm update: Mr Smotrich confirms receiving extra security after Knesset receives threats against him
MK Bezalel Smotrich, who is running on the far-right Union of Right-Wing Parties slate, confirms that he was told by the Knesset’s security chief that threatening letters targeting him had been received.
This has triggered extra security for him and his family. A police car arrived at Smotrich’s home this morning and accompanied him to his polling station.
11.44am update: Complaint filed by Israel’s Central Elections Committee chairman Judge Hanan Melcer after Likud provided right-wing activists with 1,200 body cameras
Israel’s Central Elections Committee chairman Judge Hanan Melcer has filed a complaint to the Israel Police after Likud provides right-wing activists with 1,200 body cameras to monitor Arab polling sites.
A senior police official told Haaretz there is no suspicion that a criminal offense was committed, adding that the activists caught with body cameras were outside polling stations not inside them.
Police are currently waiting for the Central Elections Committee’s decision to determine whether the installment of the camera is an obstruction of the voting process.
11.23am update: Prime Minister Netanyahu has cast his vote
Photos show a smiling Mr Netanyahu placing his voting card inside a ballot box in Jerusalem with his wife, Sara.
10.35am update: Police find cameras hidden at polling stations
Israel Police have found dozens of cameras, some of them hidden, installed by activists in polling stations in Arab communities, in cities which include Nazareth, Reineh and Tamra.
A police source told Haaretz that filming at the entrance to polling stations does not constitute a felony unless cameras are installed behind the privacy divider.
The source added that to their knowledge, the cameras were not hidden behind the divider. It is not known which party has installed the cameras.
9.48am update: Voter turnout currently reported at 12.9 percent
Polling sites are reporting a 12.9percent as of 10am local time (8am BST).
In 2015 turnout was at 13.7 percent and 2013 turnout was 11.4 percent at the same time.
The overall turnout in 2015 was 71.8 percent.
9.06am update: Prime Minister Netanyahu invites voters to chat through social media
Mr Netanyahu has uploaded a video calling on voters to chat with him personally on Facebook messenger by clicking on a link.
He said: “This morning I want to talk to you personally through messenger. All you have to do is click the link. I am waiting.”
Voters have also reported receiving SMS messages inviting them to personally chat through messages with the prime minister.
8.25am update: Kahol Lavan candidate Benny Gantz casts his vote
Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz has now cast his vote in the central city of Rosh Ha’ayin, saying “We’re going to change the state of Israel.”
After submitting his vote Mr Gantz’s party issued a statement saying he will now travel to Kfar Achim to visit his parents’ gravesite.
8.12am update: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issues message directed to voters on social media
As broadcast and traditional media outlets are off-limits for campaigning on election day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
The media-savvy right-wing leader posted a link on Twitter and Facebook with a video message in Hebrew saying: “Good morning.
“This morning I am asking to speak with you, personally, through messenger. All it takes is one click on the link. I’m waiting.”
6.34am update: Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon casts his vote
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has now cast his vote in Haifa and Shas party chairman Arye Dery has also voted in Jerusalem.
Mr Kahlon said: “If Kulanu gets another seat it will change the lives of millions of citizens, of the elderly, of the disabled, of the middle class, of young couples waiting for housing,”
5.00am update: Polls Open
More than 10,000 polling stations have now opened across Israel.
There are 6.3 million eligible voters who will today cast their vote as hundreds of thousands of Israelis are expected to enjoy the day off.