4 indicted for online threats against key witnesses in Netanyahu corruption trial

Individuals charged with making series of abusive comments against Hadas Klein and Nir Hefetz, including post stating ‘on the day you die we will rejoice’

Hadas Klein and Nir Hefetz appear separately in the Jerusalem District Court for their testimony in Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial. (Flash90)
Hadas Klein and Nir Hefetz appear separately in the Jerusalem District Court for their testimony in Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial. (Flash90)

Four people were indicted on Monday for issuing violent threats against two key witnesses for the prosecution in Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial.

The four individuals were charged in Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court for threatening Nir Hefetz, an ex-Netanyahu aide turned state witness, and Hadas Klein, a former personal assistant to Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

Klein is a key witness for the prosecution in the so-called Case 1000, which revolves around luxury gifts the former prime minister and his family received and quid pro quos Netanyahu is accused of having provided in return. The former prime minister denies all the allegations.

The four individuals charged were named by prosecutors as Herzl Golan, 69, from Tel Aviv; Shmuel Tal, 21 of unspecified residence; Shalom Azrad, 73, from Rosh Ha’ayin; and Shimon Atias, 58, from Karmiel.

Golan tweeted about Hefetz that “relying on you is like relying on the Nazis who exterminated millions of Jews,” and that “on the day you die we will rejoice.” Golan also posted photos of Hefetz writing “die” and “traitor” alongside them, prosecutors said.

While Klein was testifying, Azrad tweeted that “your day will come,” calling her an “evil witch, a liar, a cheat, a racist… you’re done.”

Supporters of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu protest outside his trial at the District Court in Jerusalem on November 16, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Atias also tweeted against Klein, writing that she had a fatal disease, that he wished her dead and that she was lying during her testimony.

Netanyahu is facing charges in three separate graft cases: fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000 and in Case 2000, and charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000.

In Case 4000, the most serious of the cases against the former premier, he is alleged to have worked to illicitly and lucratively benefit the business interests of controlling shareholder of the Bezeq media company Shaul Elovitch in exchange for positive coverage on the Walla news site owned by Elovitch.

In Case 1000, he is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts from Milchan and Packer. In Case 2000, Netanyahu is accused of attempting to make a deal with Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes for softer coverage of him in exchange for legislation to curb the reach of rival daily Israel Hayom.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a court hearing in his trial, at the district court in Jerusalem on May 31, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Both Klein and Hefetz have spoken about the difficulties and threats they faced in testifying against Netanyahu.

Hefetz, a former close confidant of Netanyahu who served as head of the National Public Diplomacy Directorate, is one of the main witnesses in the trial of the former prime minister.

In five weeks of testimony that wrapped up a year ago, Hefetz claimed that Elovitch granted the Netanyahus “the highest level of control” over the Walla site, including “what would be on the homepage and what the headline would be.”

He also testified that former premier’s son and wife ordered him to make sure incriminating texts they had sent were deleted from the phones of the recipients. He also said on the witness stand that he felt Netanyahu was not fit to serve as prime minister because he was too caught up in outside influences.

Last year, a Likud supporter was detained and his gun seized after he stood outside the Jerusalem District Court shouting “Nir Hefetz should die, Nir Hefetz should not live” into a megaphone.

During her weeks of testimony, Klein detailed numerous gifts made to the Netanyahus, including premium cigars, bottles of champagne and a diamond-studded bracelet.

In August, journalist Eli Zipori photographed Klein’s home in Herzliya and tweeted the picture, leading Klein to file a police complaint against him for harassment.

“I discovered the beautiful face of the Jewish people but also sadly the cruel face. A small group of violent people who don’t know me or my family chose to harm and besmirch me,” she said on her final day of testimony in September.

“I did what should be done,” she said, adding that she had fulfilled her civic duty by testifying.

On Sunday, the Globes news outlet reported that Liat Ben-Ari, the chief prosecutor in Netanyahu’s trial, had considered resigning due to the wave of harassment and threats targeted at herself and her family due to the trial.

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report. 

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