Netanyahu calls to imprison journalist for criticizing him, retracts

Gantz: Journalists must criticize us politicians

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the Knesset, February 2020. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the Knesset, February 2020.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video on his Facebook page late Wednesday night, criticizing Channel 13 investigative reporter Raviv Drucker for carrying out a “criminal kangaroo court” and called to imprison him.
Netanyahu’s Facebook post came after Drucker reported on Case 4000 (Bezeq-Walla Affair), which discusses an alleged bribery deal struck by Netanyahu. But despite Channel 13 requesting a response from the Likud, it did not air it, claiming it was not relevant because it attacked Drucker rather than addressing the story.
The video shared by the prime minister claimed that in the Channel 13 report, Drucker was “disrupting legal proceedings and threatening state’s witnesses to change the minds of the judges.”
The video said: “In a normal world, Raviv Drucker would have gone to jail today for broadcasting criminal leaks and disrupting court proceedings, but when the goal of the media is to overthrow the right-wing leader Netanyahu at all costs, it seems as though everything is allowed.”
Netanyahu said in the Facebook post that “The fact that authorities do not arrest Drucker and let him go wild with leaks and threats against witnesses, only strengthens the feeling that in anything to do with Netanyahu, the game is addictive.
He later issued a clarification, explaining that he was “not a believer of putting journalists in jail” and blamed his spokespeople for the improper wording. The video was deleted from his Facebook page and the Likud’s Twitter account.
Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz issued a vague response to Netanyahu on Twitter, saying, “The role of journalists is to criticize us politicians.”
Gantz had been responding to Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel, who had tweeted, “This morning, as well, is a reminder that the role of journalists is to criticize the government: to criticize me and the rest of the politicians. I will do everything so that in Israel, there will be free, reliable, balanced and diverse press.”
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said, “The statement that a journalist must sit in prison for a publication is outrageous and unacceptable in a democratic state.”
Drucker said in response, “The time has come for journalists to stop being a microphone for the irrelevant and violent responses of Netanyahu. We broadcasted in the past some responses like this, and it was a mistake.”
The animosity between Drucker and Netanyahu famously began years prior, escalating in 2016, when Drucker wrote investigative reports about Netanyahu, one of which referred to Case 3000 (Submarines Affair). In that report, Drucker said Netanyahu’s lawyer and second cousin, David Shimron, had previously represented a German submarine manufacturer during a deal between the company and Israel. Drucker suggested the circumstances were a conflict of interests.
The Israeli Press Council criticized Netanyahu for his Facebook post, stating: “In a normal democracy, no prime minister or anyone on his behalf is making explicit or implicit imprisonment threats against journalists, even if they dare conduct investigations into issues that concern them personally.
“The repeated generalization of statements against ‘the media’ could jeopardize reporters and photographers who are doing their professional missions: regardless of their political stances.”