sarah bibi netanyahu
© AP Photo / Francois Mori
Late last month, Mrs. Netanyahu accused the media of "trampling" her "like a cockroach" in their coverage and publishing only "lies", but denied allegations that she was attempting to alter the unfavourable coverage by a major news site by putting pressure on the ministry responsible for regulating the media.

Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reportedly asked former communications ministry director Gen. Shlomo 'Momo' Filber to slow down regulatory assistance to the Elovitch family, owners of the popular Israeli Walla! news portal, owing to its unfavourable coverage of her and the prime minister, a leak of an interrogation transcript seen by The Times of Israel appears to indicate.

According to the newspaper, in the transcript, Mr. Nir Hefetz, former aid to the prime minister and state witness in one of the cases against the Netanyahus, said that Mrs. Netanyahu had asked him to slow down efforts to assist the Elovitch family and their company Bezeq, a major Israeli telecommunications firm in which the Elovitch family has a controlling interest.

"There was a meeting outside Momo's house where I told him that Sara asked that he not go forward too fast, that he not run with the issues of Shaul Elovitch, and that was because of the Netanyahu family's disappointment with the way the Walla! Site was portraying them," Hefetz told authorities.

"In one of our meetings she told me, 'tell Momo not to help Shaul so much'. One general sentence, and you have to say, to Netanyahu's credit, that he always emphasised that in any situation where Sara says something, it has to go through him. You don't do it unless you get his permission. I assume that Momo had similar instruction, but after she asked me, I passed on her request to Momo," he added.

According to Hefetz, Sara had told him that as a member of the "inner circle," Shlomo 'Momo' Filber would stop helping Bezeq after being asked. "I don't recall her exact words, but the message was clear: Stop helping Elovitch in the communications ministry issues. It was unequivocal," he said.

Late last month, a separate batch of transcripts in Case 4000 released to the media, Sara Netanyahu was quoted as saying that if she had "the option to take down something negative and untrue," she was "allowed to scream for my life and say that something is wrong and negative. Just check, everything they [Walla!] say about me is a lie. Human dignity and freedom is being trampled on. I'm being trampled on like a cockroach."

Comment: Well, if the shoe fits...

At the same time, Mrs. Netanyahu denied attempting to meddle in the outlet's content, or to "give instructions" to change coverage.

Hefetz is a key witness in the prosecution's case, known as 'Case 4000', with the case being one of multiple criminal investigations into the prime minister and his family by police accusing him of graft, quid pro quo, and political favours in exchange for favourable media coverage. If convicted, Netanyahu would be forced to resign, and face up to 13 years in prison on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges.

The prime minister responded to the leaked transcript, which was quoted in a report on Channel 12 on Sunday, by calling it "yet another edited transcript, presenting a warped picture". Netanyahu added that the continued "flood of illegal leaks" against him had only one purpose: "to carry out a kangaroo trial in the court of public opinion".

Netanyahu has criticised all the investigations against him, and denies wrongdoing on all counts. According to the prime minister, the probes are an attempt to eject him from office.

The leak of the Hefetz transcript was one of a series leaks in recent weeks, with Netanyahu's supporters accusing prosecutors of misconduct in Hefetz's interrogation. On Saturday, about a thousand of the prime minister's supporters rallied in Tel Aviv outside the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, shouting that State Attorney Shai Nitzan was "a criminal" and holding signs reading "enough of the persecution".