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Senior cop who investigated Netanyahu in graft cases to retire

Reports link decision by Eli Assayag to his being skipped over for promotion in recent round of police appointments

Police investigator Eli Assayag arrives at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on June 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Police investigator Eli Assayag arrives at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on June 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The head of the Israel Police National Financial Investigations Unit, who was one of the officials responsible for the criminal investigations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, announced Thursday that he will retire from the force.

Media reports linked Eli Assayag’s decision to retire to his being passed over for promotion to the rank of deputy commissioner and a more senior role during a recent round of police appointments.

Assayag had hoped to be the next head of the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit, but was skipped over, associates told Channel 12 news.

He is now expected to end his 35-year service in the coming months.

Protesters outside the Prime Minister’s Residence hold a sign reading “Crime Minister’ as police investigators arrive to question Benjamin Netanyahu, July 10, 2018.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Assayag oversaw two investigations involving Netanyahu, known as cases 3000 and 4000, and according to the Ynet news site personally questioned the prime minister.

Case 3000, a corruption probe nicknamed “the submarine affair,” revolves around allegations of a massive bribery scheme in the multi-billion-shekel state purchase of naval vessels from German shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp. The scandal has embroiled several close associates of Netanyahu, as well as high ranking military officials, but not the premier himself.

In Case 4000, Netanyahu is accused of granting regulatory favors benefiting Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Bezeq telecoms, in exchange for positive coverage from Bezeq’s Walla news site. Netanyahu faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the case.

The prime minister was also indicted for fraud and breach of trust in two other cases involving alleged illicit benefits and quid pro quos, known as Cases 1000 and 2000. He has denied wrongdoing and claims, without evidence, that the charges are an effort by political rivals, the media, law enforcement and prosecutors to remove him from office.

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