Prime minister's son Yair Netanyahu must pay NIS 130,000 to a junior Blue and White political activist after defaming her as having an affair with National Unity MK Benny Gantz, the Kfar Saba Magistrate's Court ruled on Wednesday morning.
The compensation, which included court costs, is shy of the NIS 500,000 claim by Dana Kashdi over Netanyahu's two social media posts during the 2020 Knesset election campaign implying that she had extramarital relations with Gantz.
Netanyahu insisted that his two Twitter posts about Kashdi and Gantz were innocent and didn't explicitly state or imply anything untoward, but Judge Ronan Peleg concluded that any reasonable person would be able to understand the insinuations being made by the tweets, especially given the context of other social media posts.
How did the posts constitute as defamation?
Netanyahu was making at the time consistent and daily allegations against Gantz about his sex life and alleged infidelity, according to the court, and the insinuation was that Kashdi was another one of Gantz's supposed lovers. Netanyahu still had no proof about Gantz's alleged affairs more than three years later, said Peleg.
The libel Netanyahu posted and retweeted reportedly included relations with a Knesset member from his party, sexual harassment of a classmate in his youth, and compromising videos sent to a foreign lover obtained by Iran that would be used to blackmail him in the future.
Kashdi was a secondary target used by chance to stage an attack on Gantz, and according to the court, Netanyahu was indifferent to how the tweets would besmirch her good name and the associated consequences.
The plaintiff reportedly received sexual and public harassment that the court said Netanyahu didn't bother to counter. Peleg criticized the state of Internet discourse, which "is often characterized by severe slander, mocking, baseless lies, verbal violence, racist and sectarian content, and more."
The court rejected assertions that Kashdi used the attention created by the posts to her benefit because she was interviewed by news outlets.
"It is appropriate for every person, and especially for the son of the prime minister of Israel, whose number of followers as mentioned is very large, to demonstrate self-restraint and caution in statements and publications."Kfar Saba Magistrate Court
At the time, Netanyahu had almost 140,000 followers on his Twitter account.
"It is appropriate for every person, and especially for the son of the prime minister of Israel, whose number of followers as mentioned is very large, to demonstrate self-restraint and caution in statements and publications," said the court.
The prime minister's son is not stranger to defamation lawsuits. In March a Tel Aviv Court ordered him to pay ex-Labor MK Stav Shaffir NIS 70,000 over tweets that claimed that she was tied to sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein through former prime minister Ehud Barak and alleged that she had an Arab boyfriend. According to I24, in 2022, Netanyahu lost a libel case filed by former Walla editor Avi Alkallay in which he claimed he was a plant seeking to harm his father in his ongoing corruption case. He was ordered to pay $117,000.