Former Israel Police chief Roni Alsheich, who oversaw the criminal investigation against then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, later advised members of an anti-Netanyahu protest group, a report said Monday, drawing renewed accusations from Likud that the former leader’s graft trial was politically motivated.
According to Channel 13 news, after leaving the force in 2018, Alsheich advised members of the “Black Flag” movement, which was holding weekly protests against Netanyahu’s rule, mainly over the corruption allegations against him.
The report said Alsheich provided advice on many occasions to Black Flag members, particularly to two senior figures in the protest group whom he knows personally. He made suggestions about dealing with police, the report said.
The report noted that Alsheich gave the advice unpaid and never took part in the protests or in Black Flag meetings.
Associates of Alsheich cited by Channel 13 didn’t deny the report. They said the former top cop had helped his friends like he did on other occasions, including during last month’s 11-day round of fighting with terror groups in the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu’s Likud party commented by linking the report to the years-long probe Alsheich oversaw against Netanyahu that resulted in an indictment in three cases, including for bribery. The trial’s evidentiary stage is ongoing.
“Now it is crystal clear how much the trumped-up cases against Netanyahu are an attempted political hit job in a criminal process that was corrupted from day one by Alsheich,” said the party, which has been in the opposition since a new government led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid was sworn in on June 13.
Netanyahu was directly responsible for Alsheich’s appointment to the post in 2015. Alsheich did not come from the police force, but from the Shin Bet security service, where he had served as deputy director. He was appointed after police top brass were plagued by a number of scandals involving allegations of fraud and sexual misconduct.
But the prime minister made little secret of his dislike for the police chief as his investigations progressed, accusing him of leaking information from the investigations to the press and of conducting a “witch hunt.”
Last year, Alsheich said he believed he had been branded “a traitor” within Netanyahu’s inner circle as investigations against the premier gained momentum during his tenure.
Speaking to Channel 12 news ahead of the publication of his book, Alsheich said at the time that Netanyahu had stopped inviting him to work meetings as the criminal probes progressed. “At some point they stopped inviting me to cabinet meetings, which is improper,” he said.
“I received indirect messages that among the prime minister’s associates I was being called a traitor.”
Alsheich at the time excoriated the premier for an extraordinary speech he made just before the opening hearing of his trial in May, in which Netanyahu railed against law enforcement and accused officials of attempting a coup against him.
“I fear for my children and grandchildren when such an event takes place in the State of Israel,” Alsheich said. “I think a state figure who stands accused, if he believes he is innocent, should say: ‘I will prove my innocence. I trust the law enforcement system to give a fair trial.’ Those are the rules of the game. Play by the rules.”
In a separate interview last year, Alsheich said he was confident Netanyahu would be convicted.
“If he is tried, I assume he will be convicted,” Alsheich said. “Had we not thought the odds of conviction were so high, nobody would have taken that chance.”