Deputy State Prosecutor Liat Ben Ari, the chief prosecutor in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial, has been the focus of the assault on the law enforcement system in recent weeks.
Ben Ari was marked by Netanyahu’s supporters as the main target for blatant personal attacks, demonstrations outside her home, journalistic inquiries and mudslinging. The reason is simple: She’s doing her job.
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Under the leadership of media outlets affiliated with Netanyahu, daily accusations are broadcast about alleged planning and construction offenses Ben Ari committed in a house she’d bought. Her family’s life was raked with iron combs until a suspicion was found about her dividing an apartment she owns. At the same time, lies about her family members are being spread on social media.
The message to Netanyahu’s supporters has filtered down and now she and her family are receiving threats. The police have classified Ben Ari as “a threatened figure,” she has been placed under the protection of bodyguards, and sappers regularly check her car.
Journalists affiliated with Netanyahu are trying to portray Ben Ari as a wealthy woman of property to taint her reputation and present her as corrupt. Of course, none of these journalists raised any such allegations when Ben Ari was the prosecutor in the Holyland corruption case and sent former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to prison, or in the bribery case against Benjamin Ben Eliezer. Also, those attacking Ben Ari aren’t in the least bothered by the grave corruption charges against Netanyahu himself.
This is not criticism against Ben Ari, but persecution. The mudslingers aren’t looking out for the rule of law, but wish to intimidate Ben Ari and make her step down from overseeing the cases against Netanyahu.
Only in backward states, where criminals intimidate government institutions, must prosecutors be escorted by bodyguards wherever they go for fear of being attacked. Israel is now one of these states.
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Ben Ari is a civil servant who works on behalf of the public and the state. She must be protected and supported at any cost. The ridiculous letter Netanyahu sent Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit this week, claiming falsely that open season had been declared on him, should be returned to its sender, after replacing Netanyahu’s name with Ben Ari’s.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.