A-G: PM can't use gov't spokesman for nurse matter

'Sara-Tara' saga paints bizarre picture of life at Prime Minister's residence; PMO launches offensive against woman who claimed maltreatment.

By
September 1, 2011 10:26
4 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sar

Netanyahu in Moscow 311. (photo credit: GPO / Amos Ben Gershom)

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has advised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he cannot use the government spokesman to respond to claims regarding the matter of Tara Kumari, the Nepalese nurse caring for Sara Netanyahu's father. The Prime Minister's Office issued two statements charging Kumari with negligence on Wednesday.

The Justice Ministry said in a statement late Wednesday night that the Prime Minister has informed Weinstein's office that he intends to use a personal spokesman, unconnected to the government spokesman's office.

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Weinstein's comments came the day after the Netanyahu family fired Kumari, who had accused Mrs. Netanyahu of maltreatment and alleged that she was hurt during an altercation with the prime minister’s wife.


Earlier Wednesday the Prime Minister’s Office launched an offensive against Kumari, the caregiver for 96-year-old writer, poet and educator Shmuel Ben- Artzi, issuing two statements charging her with negligence, and saying she was prone to fits of rage.

The announcement of Kumari’s firing said that “anyone whose elderly parents were treated in such a negligent manner” would have fired the caregiver long ago. “The Netanyahu family also has the right to replace negligent workers who are not giving basic care to their elderly parents.”

Kumari, who had cared for Ben-Artzi for more than two years, told Army Radio Wednesday that life in the prime minister’s official residence was like being in jail.

“It is very difficult for me,” she said. “I am not free, and I never go out. Even when I ask for vacation, it is not given to me. Sara says that if I go for a vacation there will be no one to care for her father.”

Kumari said that the quarrel with Sara Netanyahu, during which she broke her finger, took place after she asked for her July paycheck. She said that when she asked for the money, Sara ran toward her.

“I was frightened, and started to move back, and fell over a table and broke my finger,” she said.

While the Prime Minister’s Office issued a strong denial of these allegations shortly after they were first broadcast on Tuesday evening, on Wednesday the office issued two additional statements that painted a bizarre picture of life inside the Prime Minister’s Residence ever since Ben-Artzi was released from an intensive-care unit at Hadassah University Medical Center and went to live with the Netanyahus at the beginning of August.

The first statement quoted a person “close to the Ben-Artzi family” who said he was a witness to Ben-Artzi’s negligent treatment, saying that before Ben-Artzi was hospitalized earlier this summer, he used to visit him in his apartment and was struck by the dirt.

“When the resident is more than 90, cleanliness is a health issue,” he said.” I was concerned about his living situation.”

According to the statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, when Mrs. Netanyahu raised these and other issues with the caregiver, she responded in “uncontrollable rage, falling on the ground and banging herself against the floor and the furniture. Mrs.

Netanyahu, worried about these outbursts of rage, called the security detail who came immediately.”

The head of security was then quoted in the statement – something that is rarely done – saying that shouts of “security, security” were heard in the residence, and that a guard went immediately and saw Ben-Artzi in his chair and the caregiver “on the ground beating herself in ecstasy against the tiles and the furniture.”

According to the testimony of the security guard, Mrs.

Netanyahu was more than a meter away from the woman.

He noticed that Kumari’s finger was injured, and summoned someone to treat her injury.

Despite this behavior, Kumari remained with Ben- Artzi in the Prime Minister’s Residence.

“To the list of negligent acts that the foreign caregiver has been involved was added another one this morning,” a second statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

“In the morning the caregiver left the Prime Minister’s Residence, leaving Mr. Shmuel Ben-Artzi abandoned alone in his room. At that time she was apparently giving an interview to one of the Israeli television networks, outside the official residence.”

According to the statement, when Ben-Artzi needed to move around the room, she wasn’t there.

“He lost his balance and hit himself on a chair in the room.

He suffered from pain in his back, and the house staff called for medical assistance.”

The house doctor who treated him, Zvi Hermon, was quoted as saying that “we are talking about negligence by the caregiver who left the patient alone in his room.”

Channel 2, meanwhile, reported that Sara Netanyahu suspected the worker of stealing money from her father, and showed two bank statements indicating three withdrawals, once in 2010 and twice this year in the amount of thousands of shekels.

Kumari reportedly denied the allegations, and said she withdrew the money at Ben-Artzi’s request.

Army Radio also reported that the altercation between Sara Netanyahu and Kumari took place while the prime minister was holding a meeting of his inner cabinet in the residence, and that he left the meeting a number of times to see what was going on in his home.


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