In probe transcripts, PM’s son accuses Likud rival of rape, ex-aide of murder

Yair Netanyahu calls police ‘Gestapo’ and a mafia; denies any attempts to influence media coverage of family

Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Flash90)
Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Flash90)

Channel 12 news has published parts of transcripts of police interrogations of Yair Netanyahu, in which the combative son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily accuses politicians, officials, and others of rape and murder and compares the police to Nazis, while denying any wrongdoing.

Parts of those transcripts were revealed in an April TV report.

Yair, 28, and his mother Sara were initially seen as suspects in the criminal cases against the prime minister and were questioned under caution, though prosecutors ultimately decided to close their case files.

In the foul-mouthed transcripts, Netanyahu repeatedly referred to the police as the Nazi Gestapo and East German Stasi. “[You are] a police state, the mafia,” he said at one point. “Sorry, you aren’t like the mafia, because even the mafia doesn’t involve women and children. Shame on you.”

He went on to say police were “the arm of the left [in its efforts] to enact a political coup.”

He called the investigations into his family a “disgrace” and claimed police were covering up “Gideon Sa’ar raping his secretary and then getting her a job to silence her.”

Sa’ar is seen as the prime minister’s chief challenger for leadership of Likud. In 2013, rumors swirled that Sa’ar had had romantic relations with a subordinate and that he had taken advantage of her through his position. This stemmed from a letter supposedly penned by the employee. However, the woman later denied writing it and said the claims were spurious. A police investigation into possible harassment by Sa’ar was closed.

Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar attends a Likud faction meeting at the opening of the 22nd Knesset in Jerusalem, on October 3, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Yair Netanyahu also claimed police had failed to investigate numerous cases of corruption by politicians on the political left while targeting his family.

When a flustered investigator asked him to slow down in order to focus on the suspicions against him, Yair Netanyahu cried out: “Oh, I thought we had freedom of expression in this country, don’t we?”

Yair Netanyahu called Nir Hefetz, the premier’s former media adviser turned state’s witness, “scum” and said he was “a really bad spokesman.” He rejected the investigator’s claims that Hefetz had been a confidant of the family, characterizing him simply as a paid employee.

“We don’t trust anyone but our family… those are the only people we trust,” he said.

He also said he’d heard Hefetz “killed a soldier and dragged the body onto train tracks to damage it so they wouldn’t know who killed him. That’s the model your counting on [for testimony].” He was referencing an investigation into a soldier’s death during Hefetz’s military service, one in which he was at one point implicated. However, the case against him was closed.

The younger Netanyahu also accused police of leaking investigation materials and said his conversation with the investigator would likely be leaked — a prediction that did apparently come to pass eventually.

Yair Netanyahu was questioned on his ties to Shlomo Filber, a former confidant of the prime minister who was appointed by him to serve as director-general of the Communications Ministry. In Case 4000, Netanyahu is suspected of using Filber to advance regulatory decisions benefiting Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in telecom giant Bezeq, in exchange for positive coverage from the Elovitch-owned Walla news site.

Former media adviser to the prime minister Nir Hefetz arrives for a remand hearing in Case 4000 at the Tel Aviv District Court, February 22, 2018 (Flash90)

Asked if he had discussed regulatory issues with Filber, Yair Netanyahu replied: “That’s gibberish to me. I don’t know what those things are. They don’t interest me. The only things that interest me are ideological issues of right and left, Arabs and stuff like that.”

As for his parents’ ties to the Elovitch family, Yair Netanyahu said: “I don’t involve myself too much in my parents’ friends. They have their friends and I have my friends.”

He said he met the Elovitches once at a dinner and tried to understand why they, of a right-wing persuasion, had a website, Walla, which was “extreme left, Israel hating.”

He said: “I told them most of the people are right-wing. If you’ll be right-wing the majority of the people will be with you.”

He said he later sent Iris Elovitch some text messages in reaction to specific stories. “‘Look at this filth, what a leftist site.’ I sent her responses by right-wing bloggers…I wanted to put a mirror in front of her.”

He denied intervening in content on the site or contacting its management to seek changes to stories, calling Hefetz’s claims he was constantly in contact with the website owners as “lies.”

Former Communications Ministry director-general Shlomo Filber arrives for a hearing at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on February 18, 2018. (Flash90)

“It’s a horrible site, telling lies about us, about my mother. What you’re saying [in alleging the website was providing positive coverage] is bizarre. Go to Google, type ‘Yair Netanyahu’ and see what they say about me in the relevant years. I don’t know why I never sued them, I should have sued them.”

In response to the transcripts Sa’ar said: “If the report is true, I reject with disgust the bizarre and disgraceful lies that Yair Netanyahu attempted to attach to me… This is further evidence of the unbridled campaign to disseminate false claims against me.”

Hefetz’s lawyer condemned the “sick and baseless words of contempt and incitement.”

Yair Netanyahu said Tuesday the leaking of the transcripts was part of the “witch hunt” against the family and “an ugly attempt to shame him.”

The prime minister’s older son is known for his combative, blunt and unrestrained style. He is a vocal right-wing activist on social media, and has in the past defended his father and repeatedly ignited controversies with inflammatory statements online. The Times of Israel recently compiled a list of some of his most incendiary tweets.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (Gali Tibbon/Pool Photo via AP)

His father faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000, as well as additional fraud and breach of trust charges in two other criminal investigations.

The prime minister denies the allegations and claims to be the victim of a witch hunt involving the opposition, the media, the police and state prosecutors.

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