Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg Ikar is expected to be invited for police questioning with a warning, as part of a large-scale investigation of the Netanya municipality which culminated with a raid of city hall Monday morning. A senior source in the police has told Haaretz that the mayor and members of her family may be suspects. Searches in the homes and offices of several suspects as well as offices in Netanya’s city hall building have yielded documents and other content. Three men, including an attorney and a developer have been detained for questioning.
According to an Haaretz investigation, the mayor’s family members have been involved in construction projects associated with members of tycoon Yitzhak Tshuva, the chairman of El-Ad Group which owned the New York Plaza Hotel.
Investigators of the Lahav 433 crime-fighting umbrella organization within the Israel Police along with Income Tax investigators on Monday carried out raids in multiple locations in the coastal city of Netanya. Also on hand were the Prohibition of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Authority, and the State Attorney’s Economic Department. A preliminary announcement states that the investigation is based on suspicion that elements involved in construction have promoted their interests illegally with the Netanya municipality, among other things through bribery and while committing tax violations.
Back in 2007 police closed a similar investigation of Mayor Feirberg for lack of sufficient evidence.
Feirberg is the first female mayor elected in Netanya and one of very few women who have served as mayors in Israel. She was first elected in 1998, and again in 2003, 2008 and 2013. She has won a prize for efficient management from the Union of Local Authorities in Israel.
Netanya is one of the most affluent cities in Israel, and has attracted a large population of Russian and French immigrants. The city is considered one of the cleanest in Israel, with a long stretch of sandy beaches. It features of balanced mix of secular, national-religious and Haredi Jews, and is home to a growing Arab population.