Justice Ministry Conducts Security Sweep of Prosecutor in Netanyahu Cases

The sweep of Liat Ben Aris home follows reports that unknown individuals had come to her community seeking information about sensitive cases that she has been handling

Liat Ben-Ari at the Justice Ministry.
Daniel Bar-On/Jini

Justice Ministry security personnel recently swept the home of prosecutor Liat Ben Ari for listening devices after one or more individuals came to her community and asked questions about her, possibly in an attempt to obtain information about sensitive cases that she has been handling. Ben Ari is overseeing a number of cases of suspected corruption, including cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Interior Minister Arye Dery, Labor Minister Haim Katz and David Bitan, the Knesset member and former coalition whip.

Several weeks ago, local municipal employees in the community where Ben Ari lives reported that one or more people had come to the community and were asking questions about her. Ben Ari passed the information on to the Justice Ministry, which suspected that the individuals were private investigators or people with an interest in the investigations that she is working on.

After the sweep of her home, it was decided to keep an eye on her, as one person familiar with the situation put it. When an exceptional incident of this nature is reported, law enforcement officials prefer not to take any chances, a second person remarked.

A senior official recently told Haaretz in this regard that there have in fact been attempts to collect information about individuals involved in investigations against leading figures. There are indications of this phenomenon, and the effort is to see where the tracks lead. Sometimes we identify where they come from, the official said.

When information is received about an attempt to harm a prosecutor or to invade the prosecutors privacy, the Justice Ministry security department takes steps to provide protection. Prosecutors handling cases involving organized crime are assigned security guards and under extraordinary conditions, their family members have received such protection as well.

There was also a period during which the police would check former Attorney General Yehuda Weinsteins car every morning. In Ben Aris case, keeping an eye out would include less intensive measures at this stage.

The Justice Ministry said it does not respond to questions involving the protection of prosecutors.

A senior police official told Haaretz that conclusions are expected to be issued in the coming weeks, after the national fraud squad completes its investigation in two cases involving the prime minister. In the matter known as Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of unlawfully accepting lavish gifts from prominent business figures. In Case 2000, he allegedly explored pursuing government policies benefitting the Yedioth Ahronoth daily with Yedioth publisher Arnon Mozes in exchange for positive coverage by the daily. Netanyahu and Mozes deny any wrongdoing.

Case 2000 is very simple in terms of the evidence. Most of it is on tape and is buttressed by statements made by state witness Ari Harow, a person familiar with the details of the probe said, referring to the prime ministers former chief of staff. The only remaining question is a legal one — whether the back and forth between Netanyahu and Mozes is criminal.

The corruption case that seems closest to a decision is the one in which Labor Minister Haim Katz is suspected of receiving a bribe and of insider trading. Subject to a hearing, Katz is expected to be indicted in the near future.