Elovitch to Yeshua: ‘I will kill you’ for offending Sara Netanyahu

Yeshua is testifying as part of Case 4000, the 'Bezeq-Walla Affair.'

Former CEO of Walla Ilan Yeshua at trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, April 5, 2021 (photo credit: OREN BEN HAKOON/POOL)
Former CEO of Walla Ilan Yeshua at trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, April 5, 2021
(photo credit: OREN BEN HAKOON/POOL)
In a text message the prosecution presented on Wednesday at the public corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bezeq and Walla owner Shaul Elovitch told former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua “I will kill you” because of an article on Walla that upset Sara Netanyahu.
On day three of Netanyahu’s trial, as an example of the 315 incidents of Netanyahu messengers’ interventions into Walla’s content, the prosecution presented a January 25, 2015, incident.
During the incident, the prime minister himself allegedly asked Elovitch to demand from Yeshua to remove a negative article about Sara Netanyahu relating to the Prime Minister’s Residence Affair.
Prosecutor Yehudit Tirosh asked Yeshua: What did it mean when Elovitch said take down the news item fast and “I will kill you?”
Yeshua responded “this was the level of pressure and anger” Elovitch was experiencing from the prime minister because of the negative article about Sara.
Yeshua is testifying as part of Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla Affair, in which it is alleged that Netanyahu participated in a media bribery scheme in which he favored Bezeq in exchange for positive coverage from Walla and negative coverage by Walla of his competitors.
The former Walla CEO recorded calls from various defendants and players in the case and eventually turned over the recordings to police, along with a massive number of texts, which collectively broke open Case 4000.
In the same January 25, 2015, incident and series of texts, Tirosh asked Yeshua what he understood from Elovitch writing that he needs “an approval for Yes” in the context of wanting the Sara Netanyahu article removed from the Walla website.
Responding, Yeshua said, “I understood that Elovitch needed regulatory approvals connected to his desire to use Bezeq to buy the shares of Yes” in order to merge them.
He added that he ordered the Sara Netanyahu article to be removed fast and “buried.”
Further, Yeshua said that removing the article completely was very unusual since the more standard move for a problematic article would be to move it down to a less prominent position on the website, but not to completely remove it from the Internet, including even back pages and Facebook.
Earlier Wednesday, the prosecution played a dramatic recording of Bezeq CEO Stella Handler pressuring Yeshua to return to favoring Netanyahu.
The January 30, 2017, recording presented Handler as impatient with Yeshua for taking a newly independent and critical tone on the Walla website against Netanyahu after the 2013-2016 era in which the website favored the prime minister.
“This is a mess and you should not go rogue on this,” said Handler on the recording.
Tirosh asked Yeshua what business the CEO of Bezeq, a telecommunications company, had interfering with the business of Walla, a news website.
Yeshua said that when Elovitch sometimes called him to meetings at the Bezeq headquarters, there were a few instances where Handler rebuked him for articles on the Walla site that were critical of Netanyahu.
He said that Handler told him that these articles could “cause grave damage to Bezeq,” clearly connecting Walla’s coverage of Netanyahu to whether Bezeq would receive favorable government policy treatment.