Ex-Shin Bet officer: Legitimate to provide security detail to PM’s son
The Prime Minister Office’s security chief has the right to consider adding security to the premier’s son – especially if he is high profile, said Shmulik Philosof, a former Shin Bet officer.
This comes 24 hours after the tape of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair was released, in which he is heard making disparaging comments about women while visiting strip clubs in Tel Aviv along with his security detail.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, Philosof, the former head of the National Dignitary and Delegation Protection Division of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), explained that no one in the prime minister’s family – except the prime minister himself – is receiving security services from the Shin Bet. Instead, he said, they receive security services from a unit in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Recently, a debate was sparked over the necessity of securing both Yair and Avner Netanyahu. Some mentioned that they were the first adults that receive these service. Others stressed the involved expenses in securing both the son’s, in an attempt to shut down the idea.
He added that it is not up to the Shin Bet to decide whether the family receives security details or not, but it is a choice made by the Prime Minister Office’s security chief.
“I think that if the Prime Minister Office’s security chief makes up his mind and decides to secure the family of the prime minister, it is a legitimate consideration,” Philosof said. “I don’t think that he’s doing it in order to please the boss. He is doing so because he thinks that as the person in charge of the security of the family, he sees a certain degree of threat. It could be sporadic violence or it could be a kidnapping threat.”
Philosof said that there is a special committee, called the Ciechanover Committee, that decides who receives Shin Bet security in Israel. The prime minister is on the list, as are his children, while they are under 18.
However, the Prime Minister Office’s security chief can include adult children as well if he thinks that they are high profile.
“In the case of Yair Netanyahu, we recently see that everyone is talking about him, and it doesn’t matter why. It is possible that he receives threats, and this is why he [the Prime Minister Office’s security chief] provides him with security details,” Philosof said. “I have no doubt that harming the prime minister’s son is a strategic hit to Israel… If he was anonymous, it wouldn’t be a problem. But everyone is talking about him, and he even gets an impression in [the satirical television show] Eretz Nehederet… I’m not here to blame anyone, but this is the reality that was created.”
Last week, former Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen said in an interview to Army Radio that he did not recommend to add security to Netanyahu’s children.
Philosof stressed that it is not up to the Shin Bet’s head to decide such a thing, and suggested that he perhaps meant that he did not recommend to add them to the Ciechanover Committee list.
In the tape that was aired on Channel 2 News, Netanyahu’s security guard is heard going with him to these strip clubs and even participates in the conversation in the car.
Philosof said that if it was decided that a certain person needs security, the guard should stick with them regardless of the moral or ethical nature of their acts.
“We should differentiate between an illegal action and something that might be perceived as unethical. It is not illegal yet to go to a strip joint, right?” Philosof said.
“The security guard has no judgment. He has a mission to secure a specific person. If – and we haven’t seen such a thing so far – he sees that the person he is protecting is about to commit a crime – let’s say rape someone – he should prevent it. But this was not the case.”
“We might think that what Yair Netanyahu did was unethical or even wrong. But the security person has no [right] whatsoever to stop securing him. If he wants, he can turn to his superiors after the night is over and tell them what happened. They could decide whether to say something to the secured person or not.”
“No one should blame the security detail for this story,” Philosof concluded. “In most cases I expect the secured person to remember that he is going with ‘a tail,’ so he should be more thoughtful about what he is doing.”