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How low will Netanyahu go to save himself as his legal cases heat up?

In February 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Nir Hefetz tweeted a selfie with fellow Netanyahu advisers Topaz Luk and Yonatan Urich and wrote “New media commandos before another secret maneuver beyond the lines of the Left.”

Fast forward five years. Hefetz is now a state’s witness against Netanyahu. Luk is accused of violating quarantine following a trip with Netanyahu to Washington. And the “commando operations” apparently are still going on.

Luk and Ofer Golan, who replaced Hefetz as the Netanyahu family’s spokesman, got caught red-handed Sunday night filming a strange group of protesters wearing orange shirts near the prime minister’s official residence.

The protesters were not wearing masks, and they were holding signs outside the Prima Kings Hotel downplaying the coronavirus.

Protester Yoav Glasner and his friends started talking to the people in the orange shirts when he noticed that they were being filmed. He immediately recognized that the people doing the filming were Luk and Golan.

Glasner took out his own phone, photographed Luk and Golan and then videotaped himself chasing after them as they ran away down Ramban Street. In the video that has been seen by nearly 100,000 people on Twitter, Glasner repeatedly asked Netanyahu’s advisers when they will follow in the footsteps of Hefetz and become state’s witnesses.

“I was shocked that they came,” Glasner said. “There are ways of doing things in a more secretive manner.”

Only after Glasner returned to the demonstration to find that the protesters in orange shirts had taken them off and scattered into the crowd was he told that Luk had accompanied Netanyahu to Washington and therefore had to be in quarantine.

“We caught them with their pants down, ruining their attempt at mudslinging,” Glasner said. “Maybe next time, I’ll catch Sara [Netanyahu] coming out of the sewer.”

It is ironic that Netanyahu’s adviser got caught allegedly endangering the public while in the act of attempting to paint the protesters doing just that. This was not the first attempt by the prime minister’s team to make the demonstrators look bad.

Pro-Netanyahu activists have been photographed at the protests without masks as they shouted into megaphones that there is no coronavirus.

They have also asked in protesters’ WhatsApp groups for rides to demonstrations after identifying themselves as “borderline corona cases.”

Getting the public to believe that the demonstrations are Israel’s Wuhan could serve Netanyahu’s attempts to rid himself of the blame for his own failure for not stopping the spread of the virus. It could also prevent centrists and right-wingers from joining the demonstrations even if they agree with their message against corruption.

Attempts at fake news culminated in the prime minister’s son Yair Netanyahu posting pictures of garbage on the streets in Uman that he said were taken after demonstrations near the prime minister’s residence where he lives.

Yair Netanyahu is close with Luk and Golan, who released a picture of the two of them in July with Sara Netanyahu after rumors circulated that she was sick.

Golan is being investigated for allegedly harassing state’s witness Shlomo Filber. He came to Filber’s house in August 2019 with a loudspeaker and shouted “Momo, be a man. Tell the truth. What did they do to make you lie about the prime minister?”

That was clearly another botched “commando operation” that raises questions about how much the prime minister himself knows about what is being done to besmirch his enemies and the tactics being used. How low will he go to save himself as his legal cases heat up?

Right now, it’s his propagandists who are in a pickle. But the real commando – in the Prime Minister’s Residence – could end up being brought down.

Source: Gil Hoffman – JPost