Israel Police Raid Ad Firm for Information on Finances of pro-Netanyahu Campaign

Investigators seeking to learn if money for anti-Barak ads in 2007 was legally reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting, July 31, 2016.
Gali Tibbon / AP

Police recently searched an advertising firm and took testimony from several people after receiving information that businesspeople may have illegally financed an advertising campaign on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s behalf.

As reported last night on Channel 10, around 10 days ago detectives from the police Lahav 433 serious crimes unit visited the offices of the Inbar Merhav advertising agency in Tel Aviv with search warrants.

According to information police had received, after Ehud Barak returned to the helm of the Labor party in 2007, private sources funded a negative ad campaign for Netanyahu that stressed Barak’s responsibility for the killing of 13 Arab demonstrators during the October riots in 2000. Funding a campaign with private money is not necessarily a crime, but police were seeking to determine the source of the donated money and whether it was reported to the relevant authorities.

Police summoned the lawyer who signed the 25,000-shekel (about $6,500) check given to the ad agency for the campaign, but the lawyer claimed he didn’t know anything about the campaign and hadn’t signed the check, which made police suspect the campaign had been funded illegally. Police have also questioned several other people reportedly involved in the campaign. According to police information, the ad agency itself had not done anything wrong and its personnel were not connected to the financing of the campaign.

Inbar Merhav said, “The office is not a party to the investigation. Naturally we cannot give any more details.”

Police said Sunday the inquiry into the ad campaign is not crucial to the other investigations of Netanyahu, which are continuing. A probe was recently launched into suspicions that businessmen gave money to Netanyahu’s family members for their private expenses. Police are also looking into whether Netanyahu got expensive gifts from businessmen.