Fearing flames, fire brigade shut down Bar Refaeli event


(JTA) — Israeli firefighters canceled an event featuring the supermodel Bar Refaeli amid complaints that it was unsafe and damaging to nearby businesses.

The opening of a new store in the Urbanica chain, which Refaeli is promoting, was scheduled to take place Thursday at the largest shopping mall of Beersheba in Israel’s South but was canceled by order of the local fire brigade on grounds that organizers lacked proper documents. The venue did not have enough fire escapes to accommodate the number of onlookers expected there, the fire brigade said.

The cancellation follows complaints by business owners from the mall over the closure of its parking lot for the event, in connection with Refaeli’s presence there, nrg.co.il reported. Organizers requested management take this step, citing fears that her attendance would draw too many onlookers.

Refaeli, 30, is considered Israel’s leading female model and was featured on the cover of the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. A former girlfriend of the Hollywood film star Leonardo DiCaprio, she was voted No. 1 on Maxim magazine’s Hot 100 list of 2012.

But in recent months, Refaeli has faced criticism in Israel over prosecutors’ allegations that she had evaded paying taxes – which she denies – and the decision to shut down aerial traffic around the Haifa-area venue where Refaeli had her wedding in September. Amid uproar over what was perceived as preferential treatment, Israel’s transportation minister eventually canceled the closure.

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