Netanyahu’s Security Detail Assaults Haaretz Photographer

As PM attended birthday party for PR mogul Ran Rahav, guards closed public street and detained photographer – until he called police for help

Security personel outside Rahav's birthday party, Savyon, April 29, 2019.
Ilan Assayag

Guards from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security detail assaulted Monday a Haaretz photographer, who was covering an event attended by the premier.

Netanyahu took time off from the hard work of forming a new governing coalition Monday evening so he and his wife Sara could attend the 55th birthday party of public relations mastermind and political consultant Ran Rahav.

Ilan Assayag, a photographer for Haaretz, was trying to cover the event, which was attended by many of Israel’s richest – along with numerous politicians. The party was held at Rahav’s home in the exclusive town of Savyon.

When the Shin Bet security service detail arrived, they demanded everyone leave the road by the house because of the expected arrival of a “high-level figure.” Assayag told the guards that the street was a public place and a large number of people lived on the street. Three guards then pounced on him, twisted his arms and knocked him to the ground, said Assayag.

Ran Rahav.
Ronen Ackerman

He was then told he was being detained and removed from the site, and told he was forbidden to take pictures of those arriving for the party. When Assayag called the police and reported that he had been assaulted the guards released him. Only then did he learn that Netanyahu and his wife had arrived.

Police officers arrived and spoke to the security guards, after which they refused to take Assayag’s complaint against the guards.

'Blossoming friendship'

Netanyahu’s participation in Rahav’s private event demonstrates the close relationship between the PR man and the prime minister. They have previously met at social events, including a small event to mark Nicole Raidman’s birthday. On the television show that Rahav hosts alongside Sharon Gal on Channel 13, the two interviewed Netanyahu and Sara before the election. Those interviews have been described as very flattering.

Rahav represents a long list of major companies that have vested interests in government decisions and policy, including El Al, Israel’s largest supermarket chain Super-Sol and Cellcom.

Sara Netanyahu in an interview with Ran Rahav and Sharon Gal, March 3, 2019.
Screenshot/Channel 13

Model Rotem Sela took a selfie with the Netanyahus, despite their recent social media spat during the election campaign, and the singer Rita performed for the guests.

The Shin Bet said that during a private event on Monday evening, in which Netanyahu participated, Assayag “was asked to follow the instructions of the security detail and not to stand in an area closed off for security reasons. When Mr. Assayag refused to follow these instructions, he was removed from the site by the security detail.”

The Netanyahu family has not responded for comment.