A woman linked to the Interior Ministry on Sunday said employees in the ministry were well aware of the “daily” sexual harassment by Silvan Shalom, but were too afraid to step forward.
The woman, who was identified by Army Radio by the alias “Sivan,” also maintained that in one case, Shalom and his wife paid off a driver to keep quiet.
Two more women stepped forward on Sunday with sexual harassment claims against Shalom, bringing the total number of testimonies against him to 11.
Sivan told Army Radio that those who worked with Shalom “could not say they were unaware of what was happening.” She said security guards and Shalom’s drivers had witnessed the minister “groping” women in the office and in the backseat of the car.
“They saw the resistance by the women,” she said, but were reluctant to report it because “he is a powerful man,” so “no one opened their mouths.”
“At the the end of the day, it was the fear that silenced everyone,” she said. She said in one case, a driver took Shalom to task “and there were incredible efforts to silence him. Both Silvan and his wife did everything to silence him and take care of compensation, to put it delicately. To prevent him from letting this get out.”
The women working at the ministry sought employment elsewhere, “in order to not be there, in order to not tolerate the never-ending harassment,” which was on a “daily basis,” she added.
A woman who was scheduled to travel with Shalom on his business trips would spare no effort to get out of it, she said. “She would do everything, even leak the reasons for his trip to journalists,” to persuade him to cancel, and “sometimes she succeeded,” but “not always.”
She said the victims included not only the employees, but also journalists and women who came in for interviews to work at the ministry. According to Army Radio, most of the women harassed were journalists.
Sivan refused to say whether Shalom had harassed her too.
Shalom on Sunday skipped the weekly cabinet meeting.
In a first reaction from the Likud party, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Army Radio Sunday the women should file police complaints.
“Despite the difficulty, there is no substitute for a police complaint. If it turns out that these claims are true, there is no room for public officials who harmed and sexually harassed women,” she said.
Zionist Union MK Shelly Yachimovich told Israel Radio on Sunday that Shalom must resign.
Two women who claim they were sexually harassed by Shalom four and six years ago were expected to meet Sunday with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and ask for full confidentiality in return for filing a police complaint that would pave the way for a criminal investigation, Channel 2 reported.
Legally, the women’s agreement to come forward with details of the alleged assaults would allow police to forgo a process of examination and immediately open a criminal probe.
Police officials assessed that this time – as opposed to a year and a half ago, when similar allegations surfaced against Shalom but bore no fruit – a full criminal investigation would begin.
According to Channel 2, after the two women testify, others who have spoken to journalists but refused to go to the police may also agree to testify.
Officials close to Shalom said that the minister denies all allegations. He will make a decision on Sunday regarding his future course, they were quoted as saying.