Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, on Sunday filed a libel suit against a journalist for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth who alleged last week that the prime minister’s convoy stopped on a central highway because Mrs. Netanyahu was angry at her husband and forced him to get out of their vehicle.
The journalist, Yigal Sarna, wrote on his Facebook page that, one night, “the massive convoy of the prime minister, four black cars and many more security guards and vehicles, halts and one man, a man who is the reason for everything, is ejected from one of the cars because one woman does not want him to stay with her and makes a mockery of the entire security detail, and indeed, the entire country – well, it’s just a part of life.”
Sarna did not cite a source for his allegations.
The prime minister’s convoy travels at high speed even on city roads to prevent any of the cars coming under sniper fire. Police cars in the front usually use a PA system to tell civilian cars to clear the way. It would be highly unusual for the convoy to grind to a complete halt.
Sarna’s account did not appear in Yedioth Ahronoth.
The Netanyahus’ libel suit is based on a law that allows a person to sue for libel without proving that the libelous speech caused any damage.
They filed the suit at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court and are demanding NIS 279,243 ($72,813) from Sarna.
The reason for the sum wasn’t immediately clear.
According to the lawsuit, Sarna “committed a lowly, cynical act.” The couple claimed that Sarna, who is known for his venomous attacks against them on Facebook, “has been carrying on for quite some time with his obsessive attempts to harm the complainants at any cost and to trample their good name out of sheer malice and bad intent.”
On Tuesday Sarna published a doctored image showing Netanyahu photoshopped as a hooded man trying to hitch a ride along a dark and lonely road. The image, created by the left-wing caricaturist Amir Schiby, was also cited in the lawsuit as a “doctored, faked picture, intended to incite the public against [the prime minister and his wife] and to disgrace them.”
Sarna reacted to the lawsuit in a short and typically cryptic Facebook post on Sunday afternoon, saying: “a) With due respect; b) [the suit is] not against Sarna the reporter but against Sarna the Facebook user; c) It is being taken care of.”