State witness Nir Hefetz, a former adviser to former premier Benjamin Netanyahu, took the witness stand on Tuesday in the Jerusalem District Court.
After the hearing on Case 2000 concluded for the day, Hefetz asked that his interrogation in Case 4000 be held behind closed doors.
For its part, the prosecution asked that segments of the hearings dealing with “interrogation exercises” they used on Hefetz be held behind closed doors. Hefetz responded, “When this information comes out, it’s going to make a huge noise. I want the trial to be as open and transparent as possible, but behind closed doors. There’s a limit to what a person can endure.”
He added that "draconian" means had been used against him during his interrogation, "out of all proportion to the matters on which I was being questioned."
The judge rejected both requests, noting that procedures were usually only held behind closed doors if there was a likelihood that the witness' privacy would be infringed upon.
During the hearing on Case 2000, Hefetz was asked to describe the relationship between Netanyahu, his former boss, and Noni Mozes, publisher of Yediot Aharonot, during the period of concern.
“He [Netanyahu] was convinced that Mozes was behind Yair Lapid and others,” Hefetz said. “I heard him say on a number of occasions that Mozes was trying to overthrow him.
“When I tried to disagree with him on this, and suggest that Mozes wasn’t nearly as influential as he thought, he dismissed the notion out of hand,” Hefetz continued. “Even if it concerned a news item that Ben Caspit wrote in Maariv, where he worked for 30 years, he [Netanyahu] was sure that Mozes was behind it. Anything significant that happened he attributed to Noni Mozes.”
In the course of giving his evidence, Hefetz described attempts to mediate between YediotAharonot and Noni Mozes, and Yisrael Hayom and its publisher, Sheldon Adelson, and also the way in which the Netanyahu family dealt with the criticism of them that was expressed in articles published in Yediot Aharonot. “It’s impossible to understand the intensity of what was going on then,” Hefetz said. “Only things on the scale of the Marmara dwarfed what was going on.”
Hefetz also touched on the involvement of Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, in various decisions made by the former Prime Minister. “Her involvement, her knowledge of events in real time, her participation in decision-making were all on a scale that’s hard to describe in words,” he said, adding that Sara and Yair Netanyahu used immense pressure in their attempts to have Channel 10 shut down, something that he himself fought against with all his might.
According to Hefetz, Sara and Yair Netanyahu also wanted to go out on the attack against Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked. "We managed to restrain them by the skin of our teeth," he said. "There was an unofficial team in charge of pacifying their demands to attack Bennett."
According to a report on Kan News, Hefetz also told the court that Netanyahu wanted to have Noni Mozes threatened if he continued to publish criticism of the Prime Minister. Hefetz was also asked about the pressure that was put on him in order to convince him to turn state witness, at which point Hefetz broke down in tears.
"It was war," he said. "The investigators wanted to worm everything out of me. They wanted to see everything. On every single document, I wrote that they should only use material related to the investigation, and nothing that was private. But they put incredible pressure on me to sign and allow them to copy everything from my computer. I realized it was a threat, that they would shatter my privacy; they didn't mince their words."