As of 6pm, only 52 percent of eligible Israeli citizens had exercised their democratic right to vote. This is a slight drop from the 2015 election turnout, in which some 54.6% people had voted by the same time of day.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement Tuesday evening, warning Likud voters that "leftists: were voting in large numbers in comparison to the rightist camp.
“My friends the Likud voters, I must be honest with you. This is an emergency," he said.
“At 4pm today, some 61% of the leftist camp had voted, while only 41% of Likud supporters went to vote. If you don’t go out to vote we’ll lose the elections, and there will be a leftist government,” he said, giving his followers information whose veracity could not be ascertained.
In the other leading campaign, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz posted a video saying, “the statistics are good, but not good enough.”
“We have to try harder, the Likud is spreading lies,” said Gantz. “We mustn’t get confused. We have to try hard to make sure we put the ballot slip in the envelope in the correct manner (so that the envelope won’t be disqualified).”
In the New Right Party, fear abounded that other rightist parties would draw away their voters as they competed with parties such as the Likud, the Union of Right-Wing Parties and Zehut for the same electorate.
Ayelet Shaked, one of the leaders of the New Right, pleaded with the National-Religious Zionist sector. “We are in a bad state. Netanyahu is soaking up our votes with his 'Gevald' (Yiddish for “alarm!”) campaign, as is Rabbi Peretz (leader of the Union of Right-Wing Parties.)”
“We’re going back to the 2015 disaster,” said Shaked, referring to the disappointing result for her former party, Jewish Home. “We’re in a sharp decline, so sharp we are actually in danger (of not passing the threshold).”
Bezalel Smotrich of the Jewish Home Party was quick to respond to Shaked, accusing her of "not being truthful.”
“We’re doing badly because of your 'Gevald' campaign,” Smotrich said, referring to the fact that Shaked and Naftali Bennett left Jewish Home to form the New Right Party. "After you bailed, you’ll be held responsible for erasing the National-Religious sector off the political map, just so you can win one more seat in the Knesset.”
Former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman also slammed Shaked, saying that both she and Bennett are “lying through their teeth while also breaking the law.”
“The New Right must have understood that they aren’t going to pass the threshold and are therefore hysterical,” Lieberman said. “They are calling on Yisrael Beiteinu voters in Russian in audio and written messages. We’ve asked the Central Election Committee to act.”
In leftist circles, all are worried about Blue and White’s potential to draw away their votes. Amir Peretz and Shelly Yachimovich of the Labor Party issued a statement saying that, “the Blue and White campaign to wipe out the Labor Party is working.”
Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg also sent a message to her voters, warning that the party is “in the danger zone,” and that it is “fighting for every vote.”
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who leads the Kulanu Party, warned his supporters that they “might wake up and find a government that has no compassion. Every vote can make a difference and decide whether I will be the finance minister or someone else.”
Gesher leader Orly Levy-Abekasis said her party had fallen victim to fake news, and that her supporters received text messages that said voting for Gesher means supporting Gantz. “They’re afraid! They’re disrespecting your intelligence,” she said on Twitter.
In Shas, party head Aryeh Deri said he was receiving messages saying the party isn’t doing well. “We must work hard to save the legacy of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,” he said referring to the late spiritual leader of the party.
In the Arab sector, many were worried about the low turnout. Both heads of parties and local municipal leaders worked together to get Arab voters to the polls, since many traditionally boycott the Israeli elections.
MK Ahmad Tibi of the Ta’al Party said the low turnout in Arab communities posed "a genuine danger for the two Arab parties.”