In an ongoing civil damages suit, former employees of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official household have accused his wife, Sara, of regularly abusing them verbally and flying into rages after drinking alcohol.
In their written testimonies to the Jerusalem Labor Court as part of the case filed by the Prime Minister’s Residence former caretaker Menny Naftali , Guy Eliyahu and Emmanuel Sela alleged that their rights were routinely infringed upon while they were employed by the couple at the official household.
In the testimonies, the former employees claimed that Sara Netanyahu terrorized personnel at the residence and established an atmosphere of fear, especially after she would consume copious amounts of alcohol.
“I remember vividly the mood changes that led to shouts, humiliations and [generally] inappropriate behavior on the part of Mrs. Netanyahu toward me and others at the household,” wrote Eliyahu, adding that this led to an “atmosphere of fear among the employees who were afraid of being victims of minor incidents that would escalate into difficult, rage-filled outbursts, especially after she would drink large amounts of alcohol that I and others would bring to her room daily.”
Eliyahu’s testimony also said that over 20 employees had quit during her husband’ tenure at the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Eliyahu defended Naftali’s accusations against Mrs. Netanyahu, alleging that he witnessed a number of transgressions against his former coworker by the prime minister’s wife. “As a worker in the residence I was witness to improper behavior by Sara Netanyahu towards Naftali, including shouting and degrading him. I was also hassled constantly. For example, Mrs. Netanyahu would ask me to bring her food late at night and when I would arrive with the requested food, she would accuse me of causing her to gain weight.”
The former employee also claims that he was once called to the household after midnight one night to heat up a bowl of soup for Mrs. Netanyahu, and was shouted at that he should come back to the house anytime she wanted to eat. Another time, Eliyahu alleged, he was called back to wish the PM’s wife good night, after which he was reportedly reprimanded and was told to let her know personally in the future when his shift ended and to wish her good night.
Sela also described “inappropriate behavior” by Mrs. Netanyahu which included “shouts, tongue-lashings and unending pressure, including simultaneous, conflicting orders by the prime minister and Mrs. Netanyahu.”
Sela went on to list an example in which he was working a shift alone and was asked by the prime minister to prepare a snack for two speechwriters who had arrived at the household.
“As I was making sandwiches, I got a call from Mrs. Netanyahu who asked me to bring up a glass of wine to her room,” Sela wrote. “When I told her I was in the middle of making sandwiches, she yelled at me that she forbade it because she had a honey cake on the upper floor which I was to serve with coffee. ‘There’s no budget for this,’ she told me.”
“When I went back to the prime minister, he asked about the sandwiches. Mrs. Netanyahu was there. I told him I prepared them but that they should both decide what they’d like me to do. The prime minister patted me on the back and told me to bring them immediately. The prime minister’s wife stood there furious,” he went on.
Sela said the incident was never forgotten by Mrs. Netanyahu whom he said made sure to make his life miserable after that.
A statement by the Prime Minister’s Office derided the allegations as false, claiming the two men had malicious intent: “This is nothing but pathetic gossip-mongering intent on sullying the [prime minister] and extracting money illegally from the Prime Minister’s Office.”
Naftali filed a lawsuit in March of last year for NIS 1 million ($250,000) in damages after providing extensive descriptions of humiliation, racist remarks and angry outbursts that he allegedly suffered at the hands of Sara Netanyahu.
Naftali also alleged that the Netanyahus did not meet certain financial obligations regarding his employment and that he was not compensated for irregular hours or workdays.
The Netanyahus denied the allegations in June last year, and claimed that Naftali lashed out violently against other workers.
Mrs. Netanyahu is not a defendant in the lawsuits, as the two men are suing the Prime Minister’s Office for their purported grievances.
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report