Finance Ministry Accountant General Rony Hizkiyahu is examining a request from the Prime Minister’s Office for an armored vehicle for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara. Since Benjamin Netanyahu began his second stint as prime minister nine years ago, his wife has traveled in a regular passenger car.
Netanyahu's bureau has since released a statement Thursday, saying "the prime minister, his wife and bureau are not involved in any way in decisions regarding protection and security, including the issue of an armored vehicle for the prime minister's wife."
"The responsibility for this lies solely in the hands of the security wing of the bureau," said the statement, stressing that decisions on the matter are made only according to security and professional concerns, without involvement from the Netanyahus.
Mrs. Netanyahu is protected by the Magen unit in the Prime Minister’s Office, which also guards the prime minister’s sons, and not by the Shin Bet security service. She is entitled to security and a car and currently uses a Skoda sedan from the Prime Minister’s Office’s vehicle fleet.
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The Prime Minister’s Office recently decided that the prime minister’s wife should be provided an armored car, but it isn’t clear whether the request was initiated by Sara Netanyahu herself or if it came from the security department at the Prime Minister’s Office. The office asserted that there are security and operational reasons for providing her with an armored car and the request was submitted to the Accountant General’s Office. The security department did not explain, however, what prompted the request at this time.
Sources in the Accountant General’s Office said that Gabi Shohat, who heads its procurement department, is not eager to purchase such a car due to its high cost. As a result of the weight of the protective gear required, the car itself must be particularly sturdy. The government generally buys Audis for this purpose and then has them outfitted with the protective armor. The cost of each car is an estimated 2 million shekels ($559,000). The armored vehicles are expensive to operate and maintain due to increased fuel consumption and as a result of accelerated wear to the car’s suspension system and brakes.