“And people still say there are no leaks from the police,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sniffs, from time to time, citing seemingly incriminating quotes from the media about what’s happening in the interrogations he and his wife Sara are undergoing.
On Wednesday evening, the Israel Television News Company reported that the couple would be interrogated again before Passover. Netanyahu lost no time issuing a statement that accused the police of leaking news of a future interrogation in order to bring the investigations back to the top of the news agenda after he’d “successfully resolved” the political crisis.
His gofers on the social networks and the MKs and ministers who are directly briefed from the Balfour Street residence in Jerusalem adhere to this line, and help fuel the campaign of delegitimization of the law-enforcement agencies. Even before an interrogation has ended, the media reports its contents, they allege.
A real example: On Friday two weeks ago, the Netanyahus were questioned, simultaneously but separately – he in the residence, she at the headquarters of the anti-fraud Lahav 433 police unit, in Lod, near Tel Aviv. At the start of the session with Sara, she was told that she was a suspect, meaning that she would be questioned under caution in Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla affair.
The suspect claimed that she was “surprised.” “I thought I was here to give evidence,” she complained. “It’s hard for me after the death of our family dog, Kaiya.” And she added a litany of other statements and claims and accounts.
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While the session was still underway, the Channel 10 News legal correspondent tweeted that the Lady was being questioned under caution, and also quoted part of the dialogue. Netanyahu’s people immediately tweeted back: Here is the smoking gun, another one. The questioning is still ongoing and the interrogators are already reporting on it to outsiders! There are no limits, there’s no shame, they railed.
The senior ranks of the police gritted their teeth. In a situation in which the interrogators and the woman under interrogation are shut in a room and details of their dialogue are published in the media, only someone who had been allowed to leave and enter as they wish could have leaked the story.
Everyone who was involved in the incident that Friday, from every circle, was called in for questioning. The result was unequivocal: None of the investigators had left the room, none of them had used their mobile phones, not for a conversation and not to leak information. Who had left the room? The Lady. Why? To consult with one of her lawyers who was present after she’d been told – to her ostensible surprise – that she was a suspect and not a witness. Having consulted, she came back into the room. The tweet came shortly afterward. A real coincidence.
The police reached the following conclusion: Mrs. Netanyahu’s leaving the room for “a consultation” was pre-planned. The leak came from her “surroundings.” The purpose: to make the police look bad, to undermine the interrogators’ integrity, to strengthen the concept that the investigation is biased, tainted.
No one at Lahav 433 fainted from shock at this development. They’ve thought for some time that the prime minister and his wife have been resorting to deceptive behavior, at the best, or downright illegal activities, at the worst. After all, you don’t need to be a genius to realize that a leak of that kind, while an interrogation is underway, does not serve the police – not its investigation, not its image, not its public role, or anything else.
Coincidentally, several days after the double-barreled interrogations, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich spoke at the Sderot Conference for Society. The leaks, he said, and not for the first time, come from the interrogees’ lawyers or the interrogees themselves. “That’s how they pass messages among themselves,” he said. “They are out to make the interrogation look ridiculous by means of the claim that ‘there’s nothing there.’” Was he referring to the occurrence of the previous Friday? Maybe yes, and maybe no.
From the prime minister came the following response: “Nothing of the sort happened, and not only in the [interrogation] incident in question. About a week before the interrogation, and long before Mrs. Netanyahu was informed that there was an intent to question her under caution – there was a leak to the media to the effect that the interrogation would be conducted under caution. Thus the claim that she leaked the matter of her being questioned under caution from the interrogation room itself is an absurd lie.
“Any objective examination would reveal that almost all the leaks from the interrogations of the Netanyahu couple are harmful to them, negative. The attempt to attribute to the Netanyahus the flood of mendacious leaks against them is not just ridiculous but evil and false.”