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Yair Netanyahu again fails to show up in court for libel case, is fined NIS 2,000

Session delayed as former PM’s lawyer brings sick note for son; plaintiff’s attorney: ‘I hope he is strong enough for our next session, we’ll get there in the end’

Yair Netanyahu, son of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives for a court hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court in Tel Aviv on March 10, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Yair Netanyahu, son of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives for a court hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court in Tel Aviv on March 10, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Yair Netanyahu, the son of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was ordered to pay NIS 2,000 ($630) on Tuesday for failing to show up to court in a libel suit against him. The court date was postponed to January 27, with Netanyahu warned he must attend next time.

Netanyahu’s attorney Yossi Cohen had brought a doctor’s note to the Kfar Saba Magistrate’s Court, saying his client was sick. This was Netanyahu’s second time missing a court date in the case.

In wry remarks, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Ron Lowenthal, said: “We can only wish good health to Yair Netanyahu and recovery from his sudden illness that afflicted him last night, ahead of today’s session. I hope he is strong enough for our next session, because we’d like to conduct this case… with people who show up and explain their comments on social media.

“There are lots of delays and illnesses, but we’ll get there in the end.”

The cause against Netanyahu was filed by Dana Cassidy last year after he posted her photo and details online, leading to harassment by supporters of the Netanyahu family.

The photo was an old selfie Cassidy had taken with Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz. Alongside it, Netanyahu wrote, “Does anyone know who this is?” He did so after posting unsubstantiated allegations about affairs Gantz had supposedly had.

A pro-Likud Twitter account posted the image of Cassidy with Gantz, with the superimposed caption: “He invited me for tea and it turned me on.” Cassidy said she never wrote anything of the sort.

Dana Cassidy last year after he posted her photo and details online, leading to harassment by supporters of the Netanyahu family.

The posts led to Cassidy suffering online harassment and claims of her supposed sexual exploits with Gantz. She then sued Netanyahu for libel.

Netanyahu is known for his often belligerent social media posts, which have landed him in trouble on multiple occasions.

Earlier this year Netanyahu was briefly ordered by the court to pay the plaintiff NIS 500,000 ($154,000) in the libel suit after he failed to come to court to defend himself.

The court later accepted Netanyahu’s appeal, as he claimed he had never received the notice against him, and agreed to continue to review the case. But Netanyahu was ordered at the time to pay Cassidy NIS 4,500 ($1,384) to cover defense fees.

Cassidy said the reactions to Netanyahu’s post on social media were a form of “mass sexual harassment,” with posters making numerous sexual references to her and her supposed relationship with Gantz.

She said she was later inundated with “a flood” of calls from the media asking her for comment on her purported affair with the politician.

Separately, Netanyahu was ordered over the summer to pay some NIS 280,000 ($90,000) in compensation and legal fees in another libel case.

Netanyahu was sued by former Walla news site editor Avi Alkalay over posts he shared on social media claiming the editor was “a planted mole” working with the state prosecution against his father, and accused him of being in cahoots with the state prosecutor. The former Walla editor is one of the central witnesses in the ongoing corruption trial of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu later attempted to delay the payout, claiming he did not have the funds, but the court rejected his assertion, saying documents showed he had some NIS 1 million in liquid assets.

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