Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday rejected another Israeli media report targeting his wife, Sarah, this one saying that she had pocketed at least $1,000 worth of public money by returning empty bottles to supermarkets, AFP reports.
The reports were cause for ridicule in local media and, in a long Facebook post, Netanyahu hit out at "false accusations against me and my wife that seek to topple the Likud and bring the left to power."
"All of this aims to detract attention from what is really important — who will lead the country," he wrote.
The Haaretz newspaper reported this week that during her husband's second term as prime minister from 2009 to 2013, Sarah Netanyahu collected a vast amount of empty bottles bought by the premier's office and returned them to supermarkets, pocketing the money herself.
Over several years, the Netanyahus through this practice earned at least 4,000 shekels of what should have been public money, the reports said.
Haaretz also cited a former employee of the Netanyahus who claims that the figure was in fact thousands of shekels higher.
The matter is being turned over to Israel's attorney general's office, the newspaper added.
Local media were quick to ridicule Mrs. Netanyahu, noted AFP, with Haaretz publishing a cartoon featuring her sitting in her living room, surrounded by empty bottles and pointing at a TV showing the latest frontier flare-up between Israel and Hezbollah.
"I need them to take something to the supermarket," she barks down a telephone, pointing at attack helicopters shown on the TV.
Sarah Netanyahu has been the subject of many press assaults over the years, with most of the assaults being used to in turn bash her husband. Earlier this week, testimonies which emerged in the lawsuit of a former housekeeper alleged that the Prime Minister’s wife verbally abused her employees and that this abuse would worsen when she consumed large amounts of alcohol.
Responding to the former employees’ claims, Netanyahu asked the media to leave his family alone.
"The media onslaught against my wife Sarah is yet another low for leading sources in the Israeli media, who don't reject any means to harm me and my political path," he said.
"The campaign 'anyone but Bibi (Netanyahu)' turned into the campaign 'anyone but Sarah' – anything to slander, denounce, attack and do anything to bring down the Likud government led by me, and to pave the path of the left," said Netanyahu.
He concluded by saying, "So here, I'll write this as clear as possible: whoever wants to attack my policy in a topical manner – is welcome. Leave my family alone."
Netanyahu's call to "leave my family alone" was echoed by leftist Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon, who last week slammed "the intifada against Sarah Netanyahu."
"I really do not like the intifada against the wife of the Prime Minister. It has become a national sport to criticize Sarah,” Galon said at an event in Haifa. “I do not support her, I don’t support him, and I want them removed from power, but I'm not comfortable with the criticism. The criticism should be leveled at the Prime Minister, not his wife."
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)