Model Bar Refaeli’s mother gets COVID in jail; doctors say her life is in danger

Family of Tzipi Refaeli, serving tax evasion term, say they’ll go to court if she doesn’t get medical care; physician says her heart condition worsened even before she got virus

Israeli top model Bar Refaeli, right, and her mother, Tzipi Rafaieli wear face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic as they leave a courtroom in Tel Aviv, September 13, 2020 (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, Pool)
Israeli top model Bar Refaeli, right, and her mother, Tzipi Rafaieli wear face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic as they leave a courtroom in Tel Aviv, September 13, 2020 (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, Pool)

The personal physician of Tzipi Refaeli, the mother of supermodel Bar, said on Sunday that her life is in danger and she requires immediate hospitalization after contracting COVID-19 while serving a prison term on tax offenses.

According to Channel 13 news, her family has warned that they will take the matter to court if she is not released for medical care. Rafaeli did not appear to be displaying coronavirus symptoms, thus making her ineligible to leave her cell under the Israel Prison Service rules, according to the network.

However, Refaeli’s personal physician, cardiologist Yehuda Adler, said that her heart condition put her at serious risk.

Channel 12 news reported that prior to Refaeli’s infection with the virus, separate tests had revealed a worsening of her heart condition that required hospitalization.

Neve Tirtza Women’s Prison in Ramla on March 26, 2019 (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

“The chief physician at the Israel Prison Service ignores my inquiries and did not even bother to send me her heart echo on the grounds that there was no change in her condition,” Adler wrote. “However, when the document reached my family members, it became clear that her condition had indeed worsened in a life-threatening manner. This is a scandal in medical care and criminal neglect.”

Adler said that therefore, Refaeli “has to be hospitalized immediately because her life is in danger.”

When asked for comment, the Israel Prison Service said that it was unable to address the case due to patient and prisoner confidentiality.

Israeli top model Bar Refaeli, center, wearing a face mask at court along with her mother, Tzipi, left, her father, Raffi, center standing, and lawyers, in Tel Aviv, July 20, 2020 (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, Pool)

Refaeli’s case came amid an outcry over Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s directive to delay the vaccination of prisoners.

More than 150 prisoners and 160 guards have tested positive last week alone — the largest outbreak since the start of the pandemic, Haaretz reported.

Highlighting reports of an uptick in coronavirus cases in IPS facilities, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said there was “real urgency” for prisoners to be inoculated in accordance with the Health Ministry’s policy, which on Sunday began vaccinating all Israelis over the age of 45.

The IPS said Sunday it would start vaccinating prisoners this week.

Refaeli is serving a 16-month prison term for tax evasion at Neve Tirtza Prison in Ramle, a women’s prison, which houses some 150 inmates.

Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli, left and her mother Tzipi Refaeli arrive for a court hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, September 13, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Tzipi and Bar Refaeli were sentenced last September, ending a prolonged tax evasion case that had sullied the image of a once beloved national icon.

The 35-year-old Refaeli and her mother were convicted in July of offenses of evading paying taxes on income nearing $10 million.

According to a plea bargain accepted by the court, the two were each ordered to pay a NIS 2.5 million ($1.5 million) fine on top of millions in back taxes owed to the state. The case, built around the celebrity model’s worldwide income and the family’s attempts to downplay her ties to Israel for tax purposes, damaged her well-crafted public image as an informal ambassador for the country.

Refaeli’s lawyers said the plea bargain proved she had not intentionally evaded paying taxes. Refaeli’s mother, who also acted as her agent, was charged with failure to report income, avoiding paying taxes and aiding in evading tax payments.

The indictment said she signed leases for her daughter under the names of other family members to blur Refaeli’s actual residency status and refrained from declaring her own income as her daughter’s agent.

Bar Refaeli was sentenced to community service in the case.

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