Israel Police Tighten Security for Netanyahu’s Prosecutor Over 'High Level of Threat' to Her Life

To protect Liat Ben Ari, the police are adding vehicle searches for bombs, based on intelligence assessments classifying her as under high level of threat ■ Source says security officials expect risk level to rise

Josh Breiner
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Liat Ben Ari at a hearing of Prime Minister Benjamin's Netanyahu's trial, Jerusalem, July 19, 2020
Liat Ben Ari at a hearing of Prime Minister Benjamin's Netanyahu's trial, Jerusalem, July 19, 2020Credit: Mark Israel Salem / Jerusalem Post / POOL.
Josh Breiner

The Israel Police have ramped up security measures for Liat Ben Ari, the prosecutor in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption cases, after classifying her as being under a high level of threat.

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Ben Ari has been assigned extra security detail including routine vehicle inspections for bombs and sweeps by canine units at her residence in Moshav Herut, say several senior sources in law enforcement. 

Technological security systems have also been added to her Sharon region home, while police are conducting extra patrols there. The elite Lahav 433 Unit holds ongoing meetings about the level of security to keep her at as a threatened figure.

Ben Ari has been assigned a threat level of 4, which means there is verified intelligence about an intention to attack her or her surroundings, but a senior source said that security officials expect this threat level to rise, and that the level of security to which she and her family are entitled will be adjusted accordingly. The highest threat level is 6. 

Channel 13 reported recently that Ben Ari has received tighter security since her son was threatened, and that these details were being handled by officials of the police and the Justice Ministry.

Beyond the investigation of the threat Ben Ari’s son has received, for which an indictment was handed down in Nazareth Magistrate’s Court against a Carmiel resident, police are also investigating threats received by Ben Ari’s family members on social media. 

The justice ministry said that it does not comment on security matters. 

In recent weeks, activists supporting the prime minister have been holding demonstrations near Ben Ari's house almost daily. Last week, police announced that they would limit the protest and move its location to about 450 meters from her home.

In addition, a hearing on a request submitted by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is expected to take place on Wednesday at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court. Mendelblit requested that the court issue an order banning Likud activist Orly Lev from falsely claiming that Ben Ari's son attacked a police officer.

Lev distributed a video in which it was alleged that Ben Ari's son attacked a police officer during one of the demonstrations in front of the prosecuter's home.

The Justice Ministry denied that it was Ben Ari's son in the video and said that he was not present at all at the time of the incident. The interrogation of a Carmiel resident who threatened Ben Ari's son revealed that he was influenced by the video that had been distributed. Police sought to prevent its distribution and remove it from social media platforms.

Both the police and the Justice Ministry consider the demonstrations and the distribution of these videos as an attempt at intimidation. Ben Ari herself has filed a complaint with the police, arguing that she feared for her life and the lives of her family members.

"They are trying to stop her from continuing to manage the prime minister's cases," said a source from the law enforcement system involved in the matter. "Demonstrations are legitimate when they are within the law and there is no intention to prevent them, but it is already much more than that. There is personal slander here, threats that her family members receives and intel that justified her definition as being threatened."

Attorneys Kinneret Barashi and Tali Gottlieb, who act Lev's legal team, asked the court to reject Mendelblit's request for the order to be issued, claiming that doing so would violate Lev's freedom of speech. 

Ahead of the hearing on Wednesday, Lev's supporters are expected to arrive outside the Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court.

Representatives of the prosecution also planned, in an unusual move, to go to court to support Ben Ari, but decided not to do so due to the coronavirus. 

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