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PM aide faces suspension for soliciting fawning videos from Meron families

Rivka Paluch allegedly requested grieving relatives film clips in which they express support for Netanyahu, wife Sara; PM’s office says it never asked for such messages

Rivka Paluch, left, walks alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on March 3, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Rivka Paluch, left, walks alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on March 3, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be suspended following reports she visited relatives of the Mount Meron disaster victims and asked them to film short videos expressing their support for the premier and his wife Sara, Channel 12 reported Saturday.

On Thursday the network reported that Rivka Paluch, Netanyahu’s adviser on ultra-Orthodox affairs, delivered letters of condolence from the premier to mourning families following the deadly crush, and in at least one case asked a relative for a video “to say something to the prime minister.”

The network said Paluch asked one family member to also “say a few things to Sara Netanyahu, for everything that they are doing to her, strengthen her.” It was unclear what Paluch was referring to regarding Sara Netanyahu, though the prime minister’s family has long alleged cruel treatment by the media.

The Prime Ministers Office told the network on Saturday that it would investigate the matter, stressing that it never asked Paluch to film such videos. Paluch was suspended from her position, Channel 12 reported, and as such the visits to the bereaved families were halted.

Channel 12 aired part of a video in which a relative of one of those killed at Mt. Meron last Friday can be seen praising the prime minister for his work over the years.

Meanwhile, Paluch claimed that it was the families that had requested to film the videos, in order to deliver a message to the premier, Channel 12 reported,

Security officials and rescuers at the scene of a fatal crush during Lag B’Omer celebrations at Mount Meron in northern Israel, April 30, 2021. (AP Photo)

Forty-five people died and more than 150 were hurt in the disaster near the gravesite of the second-century sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on Mount Meron last Friday.

Huge crowds of ultra-Orthodox pilgrims were making their way along a narrow walkway with a slippery metal flooring that ended in flights of stairs. People began to slip and fall, others fell upon them, and a calamitous crush ensued.

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