Israel Briefs: Supermodel Owes 2.25M in Back Taxes and More

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Earthquake Near Haifa Shakes Israel

An earthquake in northern Israel was felt throughout the country on May 15, JTA reported.

The earthquake, which measured 4.5 on the Richter scale, was centered between Haifa and Hadera about 125 miles off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, according to Israel’s Geophysical Institute.

There were no reports of any injuries or damage, although those living in Jerusalem, central Israel and southern Israel also reported feeling the quake.

In July 2018, more than a dozen small quakes were recorded in northern Israel near the Sea of Galilee, which is located on the Dead Sea Fault.

Q1 Economic Growth in Israel Tops 5 Percent

The Israeli economy grew by 5.2 percent on an annualized basis in 2019’s first quarter, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, Globes reported.

That’s up from 3.9 percent in 2018’s fourth quarter and 2.8 percent in the quarter prior to that.

But a big chunk of that growth is the result of a significant rise in vehicle exports: After deducting those imports — and the resulting tax income — the economy grew 3.7 percent in the quarter, and 3 percent in the final quarter of 2018.

Because tax benefits for vehicles for private use are about to be reduced because of a new green tax law, expenditures on those vehicles soared nearly 600 percent during the quarter. They rose 40.4 percent the previous quarter.

Meantime, business output climbed 5.8 percent on an annualized basis in the first quarter. That compares to 3.9 percent in 2018’s fourth quarter and 2.5 percent the quarter before.

Israeli Spits on Polish Ambassador, Gets Arrested

Arik Lederman, 65, of Herzliya was arrested May 14 after spitting on Polish Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowsky, JTA reported.

Lederman was later released on his own recognizance.

A few days earlier, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the government wouldn’t pay compensation for property lost during World War II. He said Poles were the main victims of the war.

Lederman apologized the next day.

He said he was at the embassy to ask about recovering property abandoned during the Holocaust when a guard called him a slur in Polish — zydek, which means “yid” or “little Jew.” He said he then took out his anger on the ambassador when he saw him on the street.

Court: Supermodel Owes 2.25M in Back Taxes

Supermodel Bar Refaeli was ordered by an Israeli court to pay about $2.25 million in back taxes, JTA reported.

A verdict had been handed down last month, but the ruling was published for the first time on May 12. Refaeli also will have to pay about $33,700 in court costs.

The tax dispute centered around the years 2009 and 2010, when Refaeli said she shared a home in the United States with actor Leonardo DiCaprio. She contended she thus owed less in taxes to Israel.

But in the verdict, records are cited that show Refaeli was in Israel for 185 days in 2009 and 131 days the following year.

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