Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara on Tuesday requested a restraining order against a Likud activist who harassed, in online posts, the senior prosecutor in presumptive incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial.
In the request filed at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, the attorney general asked that activist Orly Lev stop posting to social media about Deputy State Attorney Liat Ben-Ari’s son and that she remove all her previous posts about him.
“There is no doubt that [Lev’s] publications are intended to harass Ben Ari, to exhaust her mentally, to threaten her, and to lead other members of the public to also harass her and her son and disrupt their lives,” she said.
“Furthermore, the purpose of the publications is to instill fear in Ben Ari and weaken her,” Baharav-Miara said, adding that “no Israeli court seems to daunt Lev, who chose to continue to publish about Ben Ari’s son, contrary to her commitment and statements.”
In 2020 the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court ordered Lev to immediately remove all posts about Ben Ari’s son, or face a restraining order. At the time, Lev pledged to the court that she would stop writing on social media about Ben Ari’s family. Among posts she had made was the false claim that Ben Ari’s son had attacked a policeman.
Baharav-Miara’s request noted that in recent years there have been increasing incidents of intimidation, “the clear purpose of which is to weaken public servants, threaten them and discourage them from fulfilling their public duties.”
The development came a day after a prosecutor in Netanyahu’s criminal trial told the Jerusalem District Court that a witness in one of the cases had been threatened on social media.
In a tweet on Sunday, Likud activist and lawyer Kinneret Barashi had called for the next health minister — likely to serve in a Netanyahu-led coalition — to “put the lady Dana Neufeld on a four-year sabbatical,” referring to the witness, who works at the Health Ministry. The tweet has since been removed from the account.
“Yesterday there was an escalation on another level in our view, when a certain party called on an intended minister to lay off a witness that works at the same office and testified a few months ago at the trial,” prosecutor Yehudit Tirosh told the court.
Neufeld, who had formerly served as legal counsel for the Communications Ministry, is a witness in Case 4000.
According to allegations, Netanyahu used his powers when he served as both premier and communications minister from 2014 to 2017 to illicitly benefit telecommunications magnate Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Bezeq, in exchange for positive coverage of the prime minister and his family by the Elovitch-owned Walla news site.
Netanyahu is on trial in three corruption cases. He faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000 and in Case 2000, and charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in Case 4000. He denies wrongdoing and says the charges were fabricated in a political coup led by the police and state prosecution.
Having led his bloc of right-wing and religious parties to victory in elections on November 1, Netanyahu, the Likud party leader, is hoping to form a coalition and return as prime minister.
Lev was one of a group of Likud activists targeted last year by fake social media accounts linked to Iran that allegedly tried to sow unrest in Israel, according to an internet watchdog.