Sara Netanyahu had hairdresser visit home, in violation of lockdown — report

Sources representing prime minister’s wife say haircut was necessary for her appearance in a public service video urging Israelis to comply with virus rules

Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives to a court hearing at the regional labor court in Jerusalem, in the case of Shira Raban, a former employee at the Prime Minister's Residence, December 23, 2019.  (Yonatan SIndel/FLASH90)
Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives to a court hearing at the regional labor court in Jerusalem, in the case of Shira Raban, a former employee at the Prime Minister's Residence, December 23, 2019. (Yonatan SIndel/FLASH90)

The wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu violated virus lockdown restrictions by having a hairdresser come to the premier’s official Jerusalem residence, according to a Wednesday report, the latest in a series of high profile figures to be accused of disregarding rules meant to stem Israel’s runaway infection rate.

Sara Netanyahu had the hairdresser come to the residence, on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street, on Friday, the eve of the Sukkot holiday, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

Lockdown regulations forbid Israelis from entering other people’s homes for non-essential purposes. Hairdressers are not considered essential.

It was unclear whether she would pay a fine for violating the lockdown regulations. The law stipulates a NIS 500 fine for being in another person’s home, though that is generally levied on the visitor, not the host.

The report said that sources representing Sara Netanyahu confirmed the hairdresser came to the residence, but that she believed the taxpayer-funded haircut was allowed because it was for an appearance in an informational PR video. According to the report, the prime minister has been allowed to continue having his hair done due to his public appearances.

“Sara Netanyahu strictly adheres to the Health Ministry guidelines. During the lockdown she did not leave home and she manages her work routine as a child psychologist mainly through Zoom meetings and telephone calls,” the sources said. “Before the Sukkot holiday, Mrs. Netanyahu filmed an informational video in the service of the public in which she called on everyone to wear masks. Since she is an influential public figure and this was an informational video in the service of the public, she assumed she was allowed to use the services of a hairdresser.”

Both Sara Netanyahu and the barber wore masks and gloves, and she “even asked the barber to avoid conversation out of caution,” the statement said.

In the video, published on Sara Netanyahu’s personal Instagram account, she called on the public to wear masks and stick to distancing rules.

Barbershops and hairdressers were ordered closed in the lockdown that went into effect ahead of the High Holiday period last month.

The report is the second time the Netanyahus have been accused of violating lockdown violations. In April, pictures emerged showing a visit by the couple’s son Avner to their home for the Passover holiday, despite rules forbidding such visits by family members who do not share a residence.

A string of public figures has been accused of disregarding the rules enforced on the general public, which critics say has contributed to a lack of public trust and uneven compliance with lockdown regulations.

Nadav Argaman, head of the Shin Bet internal security service, violated lockdown regulations over the Sukkot holiday by hosting members of his family that did not live in his household, according to a Tuesday report.

As head of the Shin Bet, Argaman is in charge of the controversial cellphone tracking program that the government uses to track COVID-19 contagion, monitoring citizens’ movements so that those who come into contact with carriers can be ordered into quarantine.

Kan news said Argaman hosted his daughter and his wife’s daughter, along with the latter’s partner and son — none of whom live in his home — for several hours on Saturday. The Shin Bet responded that it “does not discuss the private life” of its head.

Head of the Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman attends the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset on November 6, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A separate report by Ynet on Tuesday alleged that Yamina head Naftali Bennett’s son had a friend visit the family home before Yom Kippur.

Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel, who announced over the weekend that she had been infected with the coronavirus, has faced calls for her dismissal or resignation Monday after a report that she broke a lockdown limit by traveling from her Tel Aviv home to the northern city of Tiberias for Yom Kippur.

She also reportedly tried to hide the trip and her time inside a synagogue there from a Health Ministry epidemiological investigation into her infection.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid announced on Monday that MK Mickey Levy will resign from the Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee “by joint agreement” after violating lockdown rules by visiting family.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Tuesday denied accusations that he had broken virus regulations by traveling from his Jerusalem home to be in the northern city of Tiberias for the recent Yom Kippur holiday. Deri claimed that someone was spreading the false accusation among journalists.

Former Tiberias mayor Ron Cobi, who has clashed with Deri, told Army Radio Tuesday that an unnamed senior minister had visited the city over Yom Kippur.

In September, a senior adviser to Netanyahu, Reuven Azar, violated the coronavirus regulations of the Prime Minister’s Office by leaving a hotel where the Israeli delegation was staying in Washington ahead of the normalization accords with Bahrain and the UAE. Azar made headlines again upon his return to Israel after he was spotted at a supermarket in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevaseret Zion while he was supposed to be in quarantine.

In April, President Reuven Rivlin apologized to the Israeli people after it was reported that he celebrated the Passover seder with one of his daughters, despite a strict curfew on the country similar to current regulations that forbade family gatherings.

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