Father Gabriel Naddaf.
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
A sexual harassment complaint was filed Tuesday against Christian IDF enlistment campaigner Father Gabriel Naddaf by a discharged Christian IDF soldier who also claimed exploitation by the cleric of his position as a priest and spiritual leader of the Christian community.
The ex-soldier’s attorney, Eyal Platek, told The Jerusalem Post that at least one more demobilized IDF soldier was preparing to file a similar complaint against the Greek Orthodox cleric.
Naddaf is scheduled to light a torch at the country’s national Independence Day celebrations on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem Wednesday night, an honor he was given for the high-profile campaign he has pursued to encourage Christian- Arab young men and women to enlist in the IDF and integrate into Israeli society.
Since the allegations arose earlier this week, however, there have been calls from public figures for him to withdraw from the proceedings.
“[Naddaf] should prevent embarrassment to himself, and the state he says he serves, and retract his participation in the ceremony,” Platek, said Tuesday.
Representatives of the priest said he intends to participate as planned in Wednesday’s torch lighting ceremony.
Channel 2, on Sunday, broadcast an investigation into the priest including audio interviews with men and women with whom Naddaf had interacted who accused him of making sexual references and allusions in conversation with them, as well as Facebook messages in which Naddaf made similar such inappropriate remarks.
He is also accused of receiving benefit, including sexual favors, from Palestinians whom he helped obtain entry visas to Israel for illicit business purposes.
A representative for Naddaf called the complaint “absurd,” and said the complainant was trying to settle a dispute with the cleric that began 18 months ago when the complainant was involved in an altercation in Nazareth on Christmas Eve 2014 and threw a stun grenade in a public place.
Serving time in military prison for the incident, the complainant requested that Naddaf intervene with legal authorities on his behalf, but Naddaf declined to become involved with the criminal matter. The cleric’s representative claimed that the refusal to help led the individual to file the complaint.
The representative also called the timing of the complaint suspicious since it could have been done any time in the past 18 months.
Platek confirmed to The Jerusalem Post
that his client indeed had been involved in a criminal incident involving a stun grenade, and that the complainant had requested help from Naddaf.
“As the Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony gets closer, my enemies are crossing all boundaries and are increasing the fairy tales and horror stories against me,” Naddaf said in a statement to the press.
“We are talking about a soldier who was convicted and served time in military prison for throwing an IDF grenade, and on such baseless testimony they are trying to blacken my name.”
A profile on Nadaf appears in The Jerusalem Post’s Independence Day supplement accompanying today’s paper. It was written and printed before the current allegations against the priest came to light.