Did police cover up complaints to turn state witness against Netanyahu?

There are a number of accusations against the police for their treatment of Hefetz to allegedly get him to manufacture false allegations and turn on Netanyahu regarding Case 4000.

Nir Hefetz, a former associate of Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu and state witness in Case 4000 (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Nir Hefetz, a former associate of Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu and state witness in Case 4000
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Channel 12 Amit Segal’s Sunday night report was a rare success in shattering the armor and unity of law enforcement regarding the handling of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public corruption cases.
Segal did not merely make allegations about police or state prosecution conduct which could be interpreted in multiple ways and where the prosecution generally has the right to keep certain issues under wraps as internal prosecutorial tactics.
He brought actual emails and accusations from high level Police Investigation Department officials of a cover-up by those officials’ colleagues at PID and in the state prosecution.
This is far more damaging to the prosecution than any previous charge because there is an insider, however isolated, supporting the allegations.
Essentially former senior PID official Dubi Shertzer has claimed that he complained to his superiors in PID about police investigators’ alleged abusive treatment of former Netanyahu ally-turned-state’s-witness, Nir Hefetz.
There are a number of accusations against the police for their treatment of Hefetz to allegedly get him to manufacture false allegations and turn on Netanyahu regarding Case 4000.
Next, Segal claims that either PID or the prosecution or some combination of them covered up the complaint and failed to disclose the complaint to defense lawyers until Segal broke the story in mid-September.
Yet, at the time that Segal initially broke the story, the prosecution denied that any such complaint had been filed, calling it fake news.
Only with Segal’s follow-up report on Sunday, including disclosing internal law enforcement emails, did the prosecution admit that there might be some truth to the accusations.
In a remarkably detailed response of internal prosecution issues, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s office sought to debunk the cover-up narrative.
They provided a full copy of an email between lead Netanyahu prosecutor, Deputy State Attorney Liat Ben Ari and current PID chief Karen Ben Menachem.
According to the email, Ben Ari immediately asked Ben Menachem for information in response to Segal’s mid-September report.
As the prosecution narrative goes, Ben Menachem responded in mid-September that she knew of no complaint being filed by a member of PID about police treatment of Hefetz.
Next, the prosecution explained that it is possible that such a complaint was raised verbally by Shertzer to deputy PID head Moshe Saada back in early 2018, but that Ben Menachem never heard about it because she did not take over PID until mid-2018. In this narrative, Saada would have decided that the issue did not warrant further follow-up, so he did not make a record of it and never mentioned it to Ben Menachem or anyone else.
The prosecution then goes so far as to suggest that Shertzer never even complained about Hefetz’s treatment. They suggest that either Shertzer made a complaint unrelated to Hefetz to Saada or that Shertzer is making up the entire conversation.
Saada, for his part, seems to be saying that there was some kind of conversation, but that he had forgotten about it because it was not important. If this was not a cover-up – and it seems that it was not or that at least it was not a wide cover-up – it does seem to flag the deputy of PID as being grossly negligent.
TO UNDERSTAND why, we need to recall the two narratives about exactly what happened to Hefetz during his interrogation.
The most serious public charge was raised by then-justice minister Amir Ohana at the Knesset plenum in November 2019. Ohana has been accused of violating a gag order on the issue, such that this report by The Jerusalem Post will only summarize part of his charges that are likely to come out as part of the public record during the trial itself.
During his speech, Ohana said that the police in February 2018 used a third party – whom Hefetz allegedly had a romantic connection with despite being married – to extort him to become a state witness. Nothing about their connection had anything to do with the Netanyahu case.
The stress this issue caused Hefetz was so acute that in November 2019, he yelled at the judges, “you can just kill me!” during a hearing about whether to remove the gag order. Hefetz stomped around the hallways of the courtroom trying to flee a wave of media attention, his face full of anger and despair.
The prosecution told the court at the time that almost all of the information under the gag order had nothing to do with Netanyahu and that parties who wanted the information only sought it to intimidate Hefetz not to testify.
The Post learned from sources with direct knowledge that the third party was not brought by the police for the primary purpose of pressuring Hefetz to become a state’s witness. Instead, the person was brought to the police station just as Hefetz’s wife was brought there – as part of standard police tactics to learn everything relevant about a suspect.
Police intelligence regarding the third party portrayed a close relationship and that interrogating the person could lead to relevant electronic evidence about Hefetz and Case 4000. The Post has also learned that there was a court-signed warrant for searching the person’s residence.
Law enforcement will need to admit at trial that once the third party was at the police station, they did instigate a sort of confrontation between that person and Hefetz.
HOWEVER, THEIR narrative will be that this was legal. They will argue they can try to convince a suspect that they know everything about them to bring them to admit the truth and their role and others’ roles in crimes being probed.
Put differently, they will depict the confrontation as an exercise in getting to the truth.
Furthermore, they will highlight that Hefetz waited another two weeks after the confrontation with the third party before deciding to turn state’s witness.
Finally, law enforcement would point out that Netanyahu’s top aide has said that when he turned state’s witness it was not because of this third party. Rather, he concluded that it was in his interest to reveal the truth – likely to avoid jail time. Maybe law enforcement’s tactics will be ruled valid by the court at trial and maybe invalid.
Regardless, Saada should have known that anything that might be remotely construed as connected to the Netanyahu case needed to be recorded and raised with all officials to the highest levels.
If the prosecution’s suggestion that Shertzer never made a formal complaint about Hefetz’s treatment is true, then it means a high-level PID official, Shertzer, is lying.
There is bad blood between Shertzer and the highest echelons of police and the prosecution. He has sued them to enforce an allegedly unfulfilled six-year-old promise that if he served for one year in PID, he could return with a major promotion to the regular police.
Shertzer, with the support of former PID chief Uri Carmel, said his promotion was held up in retaliation for probes he ran at PID into members of the police high command. It may never be possible to fully get to the bottom of the Shertzer-Hefetz story.
But Segal’s story has “drawn blood” in a way that Netanyahu’s lawyers had not succeeded to date and will likely come back to bite the prosecution during Netanyahu’s trial.