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Israel: Netanyahu's wife fails to attend court in abuse case hearing

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a photo exhibition with his wife, Sara Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a photo exhibition with his wife, Sara Netanyahu

The wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not turn up to a court hearing in which she is accused of abusing her staff.

Former staffer at the Prime Minister's residence, Shira Raban, filed a lawsuit against Sara Netanyahu alleging repeated and constant humiliation, and at one point fearing violence against her when she worked for the family in 2017.

She is suing Netanyahu for 225,000 shekels ($63,600) for what she describes as "despicable, inhuman, threatening and humiliating" working conditions, including attempted violence against her.

Raban claims that Netanyahu "treated her like a slave", and would frequently throw tantrums.

It was also alleged that female staff members were not allowed to eat, drink, or take breaks and forbidden from using the toilet on the second floor. They were forced to work long hours without pay, including on the Shabbat, which is a day of rest, according to Israeli law.

READ: A look at the legal trouble facing Israel's Netanyahu

The lawsuit also claims that Sara Netanyahu's son, Yair, incited his mother's fits of rage against cleaning staff by pointing out difficult-to-reach spots which had not been cleaned properly.

Netanyahu's defence team has attempted to deflect the lawsuit by making claims against Raban's mental health, including that she was "hallucinating".

This is not the first time former household staff to the Netanyahus have taken her to court, with former caretaker Meni Naftali successfully suing them for abuse in 2016.

It was found that Netanyahu called Naftali at 3am to complain about milk, threw a vase of one-day-old flowers on the floor claiming they were not fresh enough and racially abused him about his Middle Eastern ethnicity.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously claimed that the accusations were slander and lies, and that Sara was being persecuted.

READ: Netanyahu's son mocked after claiming Palestine never existed

Earlier this year, Sara allegedly flew into a fit of rage after the pilot of an El Al flight to Ukraine failed to personally welcome her aboard over the intercom, an incident in which she had to be restrained by security as she tried to enter the cockpit to confront the pilot.

She later went on to behave rudely towards her Ukrainian hosts, by throwing the traditional Ukrainian hospitality gift of bread on the runway of the airport when it was given to her.

She was also previously convicted of fraudulently ordering takeaways using taxpayer money to the tune of nearly $100,000 and avoided a prison sentence by paying a fine of 55,000 shekels (just under $15,000).

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