Freshman Likud Member of Knesset Oren Hazan hired prostitutes for his friends and used hard drugs in Bulgaria, Channel 2 reported on Monday. Hazan, a member of five Knesset committees and a deputy Knesset speaker who used to run a casino in the Balkan country, denied the allegations and said he was considering a libel suit against Channel 2.
The rookie lawmaker scraped into the Knesset in the election in March as No. 30 on the Likud list, and came under scrutiny shortly afterward for his previous employment as a casino manager in Bulgaria. Monday’s exposé detailed some of the alleged illegal activities in which he partook there.
The report quoted Hazan’s chauffeur in Burgas to the effect that Hazan would send him to the “Red Rose” escort service to pick up prostitutes a few times a week for his friends. Hazan would cover the cost of the prostitutes, at some €50 ($56) an hour, the driver said.
“Oren was the big boss,” Sonya, the manager of “Red Rose,” told the TV channel. “He had a lot of friends. It was good. His driver would come here, talk to me, I would tell him the price and he would take [the women]. First he would pay, and then they would leave together.”
The report also quoted two Israeli tourists and a casino employee who confirmed that Hazan would pimp prostitutes for his guests.
In addition, the exposé quoted two Israeli tourists who said that they bought and smoked crystal meth with Hazan in Bulgaria.
Both hard-drug use and prostitution are illegal in Bulgaria.
Hazan denied the allegations in a statement to Channel 2. “I am sorry to disappoint you, but the sexual fantasies, sick personality and vivid imagination of yourself and of those who fed you [the story] are out of touch with reality,” he said.
Hazan tweeted later Monday that he was in the process of examining a libel suit against Channel 2 and its political correspondent, Amit Segal, who broke the story. “Well find out in court which of us really did drugs tonight,” he said.
Hazan, who has shaped up as one of the most colorful figures in the Knesset, has made headlines several times since being elected, including in unsavory contexts.
In April, the polarizing Israeli Palestinian rights group Breaking the Silence said that Hazan, before becoming a Knesset member, had provided false testimony of human rights abuses committed by IDF soldiers in the Gaza Strip. Hazan apparently acted in the hope that the testimony would be published, and would cast serious doubt on the NGO’s credibility.
In a recording of the testimony, posted to the organization’s Hebrew-language Facebook page, Hazan could be heard detailing several made-up incidents he had ostensibly witnessed as a reservist during Israel’s 50-day war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip last summer, including a description of an IDF sniper firing without hesitation at an unarmed, elderly Palestinian man.
After being elected to Knesset, Hazan rebuffed criticism of his former job as a casino manager, saying it was entirely above board, and claimed that he was the victim of unjust media prejudice. “I’m the second generation of media abused, just because I’m not a member of the [media] establishment,” he wrote on Facebook.
Hazan is the son of disgraced Likud MK Yehiel Hazan, who was convicted of forgery, fraud and breach of trust after double-voting in the Knesset in 2003 and attempting to cover up the evidence. The elder Hazan was sentenced to four months of community service and a six-month suspended prison term.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.