Was Prof. Ruth Gavison right about Netanyahu's trial?

Was Ruth Gavison right about former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trial?

 LAW PROFESSOR Ruth Gavison receives the Israel Prize from then-education minister Gideon Sa’ar, in Jerusalem, 2011 (photo credit: LIOR MIZRAHI/FLASH90)
LAW PROFESSOR Ruth Gavison receives the Israel Prize from then-education minister Gideon Sa’ar, in Jerusalem, 2011
(photo credit: LIOR MIZRAHI/FLASH90)

Before her passing two years ago, the straight-to-the-point speaking law professor, human rights expert and Israel Prize laureate Ruth Gavison projected that Benjamin Netanyahu would never get a fair trial.

Was Ruth right?

Last week, Shaul and Iris Elovitch’s attorney, Jacques Chen filed a 222-page motion to the Jerusalem District Court detailing the reasons the case filed against his client, case 4000, should be dismissed on the grounds of abuse of process.

The abuse of process doctrine enables the district court to dismiss cases on the basis that they are unfair or that they undermine the integrity of the judicial system. 

Chen, a former prosecutor, says the prosecution suffers from “tunnel vision,” providing compelling examples and arguments. Chen attests that from the outset, the prosecution saw one and only one reasonable legal option – that Netanyahu is guilty. The prosecution completely disregarded any commentary that could taint the anti-Netanyahu narrative. Chen detailed appalling interrogations, duress of state witnesses, continuous illicit leaks, and the systematic concealment of exonerating evidence from the defense and the public.

Ruth Gavison 521 (credit: Marc Israel Sellem)Ruth Gavison 521 (credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

As time passes, people tend to forget, but Chen reminded us how Shai Nitzan and Roni Alsheich sent the police to arrest Shaul and Iris Elovitch. How they froze their assets and their bank accounts, and emptied their home of all valuables. Paintings were taken off the wall, jewelry was removed from drawers, and wedding rings were shamefully extracted from Iris’s finger. 

Why? Were Nitzan and Alsheich afraid that Iris and Shaul Elovitch would stash all their belongings into a maritime container and sail into the sunset? Or were the “law enforcers” interested in intimidating the elderly couple to implicate Netanyahu in something he did not do? Those suffering from tunnel vision may see logic in the first explanation, open-minded people will probably opt for the latter. 

Elovitch, a hard-working, down-to-earth businessman, saw his lifelong achievements desecrated and his economic success slowly crushed. He was brought to the verge of bankruptcy, locked up in a cell and deprived of basic human rights. The height of the hideousness came when his son, Or, was manipulated by interrogators in an attempt to convince his father to fire his lawyer, lie about Netanyahu’s wrongdoing, any wrongdoing, and get his life back.

Thankfully, Elovitch did not cave in and told his son, that he “was not willing to lie.” It is hard to think of a better example a father can give a child.

Similar tactics were applied to Nir Hefetz and Shlomo Filber. Physical and psychological abuse was the norm. Their families’ future was put in question and after an interrogator, eager to obtain incriminating evidence against Netanyahu, asked: “Is all this itching, suffering and lack of sleep worth it?”, Hefez caved. So did Filber.

Hefetz was interrogated around the clock and taken to detention centers around the country. One of the detention cells was infested with bedbugs. Hefetz was covered with blisters and itched constantly. His pleas for medical care were denied. 

After a few days of this, Hefetz fell asleep in the interrogation room. One of the interrogators suggested letting him sleep or taking a day off altogether. His commander brushed that idea aside. 

The hunger, fatigue and humiliation drove him to the edge. 

Apart from the physical abuse, Hefetz also underwent an “interrogation exercise” designed to put mental pressure on him to testify against Netanyahu. The exercise is so despicable that most of its details are banned from publication. For the purpose of the exercise, the police brought to the station a woman that Hefetz seems to have been acquainted with.

“Your entire world will crumble by the bomb we’re going to drop on you. I really think you should reconsider your course,” insisted Yaniv Peleg, the police interrogator.

In court, the interrogators admitted that they acted out of order. But that was too late. Hefetz caved. So did Filber. Most of us would like to think we would act differently but no one can really blame them. They wanted to protect their family.

A country that cherishes the rule of law should call Nitzan Alsheich for questioning. The public deserves answers. It looks like Nitzan and Alsheich not only abused the process, they abused their power.

The media marginalized or disregarded human rights violations. They were part of the contamination of the legal process with biased reporting of illicitly leaked material, most probably from the prosecution. The courts instructed that the illicit leaks be investigated. 

But that was brushed aside. The prosecution and mainstream media had a much more important action item: remove Netanyahu from political life. A non-lethal political assassination. At almost all costs.

Regardless of how the trial ends, one thing is already clear. Benjamin Netanyahu and the other plaintiffs did not get a fair trial. They have been subjected to seven years of pseudo-law and frivolous litigation. No need to mention what the millions of supporters were subjected to. 

There are only a handful of courtrooms in the world’s true democracies that would have permitted a half-baked indictment, like the one against Netanyahu and Elovitch, to be brought to trial. Today, after all that has been brought to the court and the public’s knowledge, those handful would have surely quashed the prosecution. Unless – Ruth was right.