Labor lawmaker faces fresh accusations of sexual harassment

A senior Labor lawmaker on Sunday publicized an account accusing a fellow party MK of sexually harassing and assaulting a female subordinate when he served as a battalion commander in the Israel Defense Forces.

In a post to her Facebook page, MK Shelly Yachimovich, who has already claimed to have received previous reports of harassment by MK Eitan Broshi, described an account given to her by a former female soldier who was a sergeant under Broshi’s command.

On one occasion, the woman claimed, Broshi sneaked into her room as she slept and tried to force himself on her, Yachimovich wrote.

An attorney for Broshi rejected the claims and threatened to file a libel suit against Yachimovich.

Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich is seen at the Knesset on October 25, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Broshi has faced calls from members of his own party to step down in light of other accusations that he sexually harassed a woman 15 years ago in an elevator. He also recently touched a female MK from his party inappropriately, and then apologized for his action.

According to Yachimovich, the woman, whose identity she did not reveal, told her that Broshi systematically harassed her with “rude and disgusting comments,” leering, and by repeatedly telling her of his sexual intentions, making “her life miserable.”

Zionist Union MK Eitan Broshi is seen at the Knesset on July 18, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Broshi, Yachimovich wrote, would try to arrange being alone with the soldier who said she feared to file a formal complaint.

One night, as the solider slept in a room adjacent to Broshi, “she woke before dawn with his tongue in her mouth as he tried to force himself on her,” Yachimovich wrote. “She pushed him away, he was worried they would be heard and relented.”

Yachimovich claimed she checked all of the details of the soldier’s story, including speaking with others who were aware of the events at the time or afterwards.

“I spoke with someone who served with her, with those who heard about the incident over the years,” Yachimovich wrote.

At the time, the soldier told the officer in charge of servicewomen on the base about her distress over the circumstances, but did not file a complaint, Yachimovich said.

The former soldier wrote to Yachimovich that “the recent events reawakened within me the disgust that I felt then. The difference is that today fear doesn’t exist. There is nothing to prevent shaming someone who dared to behave like that.”

Broshi 68, served in the Golani infantry brigade and fought in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. It was not clear from Yachimovich’s account when the events were said to have taken place.

Yachimovich noted that she has received other complaints about Broshi from people who were witness to alleged harassment or heard about it from those who experienced it, as well as anonymous first-hand accounts, but felt she could not justifiably act on any of those reports.

Three women, however, contacted her from identifiable email accounts with their stories, she said, one of which was the former soldier.

Broshi’s legal representative, attorney Ilan Bombach, rejected the soldier’s account and said he will file a libel suit on Broshi’s behalf against Yachimovich.

“I call on MK Yachimovich to remove her [parliamentary] immunity and to deal with the slander against my client in a place where the facts are clarified — the court and not Facebook,” Bombach said in a statement reported by Hadashot TV news. “It is our intention to file against a libel suit. It never happened and never was.”

Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay leads a faction meeting at the Knesset on July 16, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Broshi has already filed a libel suit for NIS 300,000 ($82,000) against party leader Avi Gabbay, who called him a “sex offender” and refused to back down from the comment despite an ultimatum demanding an apology.

After the alleged elevator assault was reported by Channel 10 news two weeks ago, Gabbay, who is also the Zionist Union leader, temporarily suspended Broshi and wrote in a tweet that “there is no place for sex offenders either on the streets or in the Knesset.”

The Labor Party, together with the Hatnua party, forms the main opposition faction, the Zionist Union.

Two weeks ago Labor MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin accused Broshi of touching her on the buttocks during a field trip by members of the opposition party. She subsequently accepted his apology.

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