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Ex-Netanyahu aide says at trial: ‘He shredded everything, even grocery lists’

Key witness for prosecution in graft case, Nir Hefetz, says he and PM’s associates used to delete electronic messages for fear of recriminations

FILE -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Nir Hefetz arrive at the weekly cabinet meeting held in the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, Dec 13, 2009 (Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)
FILE -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Nir Hefetz arrive at the weekly cabinet meeting held in the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, Dec 13, 2009 (Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

A key witness for the prosecution in Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial testified Tuesday that the former prime minister used to shred all of his documents, down to his daily reminders.

“Netanyahu shredded everything, even grocery lists,” said Nir Hefetz in response to a lawyer’s question about Netanyahu shredding documents.

Hefetz once served as a senior adviser and family spokesperson to Netanyahu before turning state witness against him.

Hefetz is the state’s star witness in Case 4000, the most serious of the three cases in which Netanyahu is facing charges. The ex-premier 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.

Hefetz, who was on his ninth day of testimony in the ongoing corruption trial against Netanyahu, said he regularly instructed figures close to the former prime minister to delete texts and other electronic messages.

He said he also regularly deleted correspondence with Netanyahu himself.

Lawyer Jack Chen presented Hefetz with a message from 2016 in which Hefetz wrote to former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua that said, “Delete all of our correspondence.”

Hefetz said that Elovitch “raised the subject that we need to switch phones,” and that Elovitch had told him that “deleting messages is not effective because it’s possible to restore them.”

Nir Hefetz arrives for a court hearing in the trial against former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the District Court in Jerusalem on December 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hefetz has provided prosecutors with key information as an interlocutor between Netanyahu and Elovitch. Hefetz was often the one communicating the premier’s wishes to Walla management and has testified on the nature of this relationship.

Hefetz left a long career in journalism in 2009 to work as a spokesman for Netanyahu’s government, and in 2014 became the Netanyahu family’s spokesman and adviser.

In 2018, after he was arrested as a possible accomplice in connection with one of Netanyahu’s corruption cases, Hefetz signed a state witness deal and provided investigators with recordings of conversations with Netanyahu and his family.

Earlier this month, Hefetz said that he left his position in 2017 because he feared the then-prime minister was no longer fit to serve. Hefetz alleged that there was a top-secret security incident during his tenure that endangered thousands.

Hefetz also said he had warned Netanyahu about what later became Case 2000, in which the former premier is accused of attempting to reach a quid pro quo with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes for positive media coverage in exchange for legislation weakening rival newspaper Israel Hayom.

Hefetz’s testimony has mostly pertained to Case 4000, but some of it has related to Case 2000.

In the third case against Netanyahu, Case 1000, he is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts from two billionaires — Hollywood-based Israeli movie mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian magnate James Packer.

Netanyahu denies all allegations against him, and says the charges were fabricated by a biased police force and state prosecution service, overseen by a weak attorney general, in league with political opponents and the media.

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