Netanyahu Flouts Law, Posts Campaign Video Falsifying Army Radio Broadcast

Fake report presents opposition candidates as holding key roles in a new government and Israel as facing a deteriorated security situation

Yaniv Kubovich
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Netanyahu visiting a counterterrorism unit's army base.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting a counterterrorism unit's army base, January 2019.Credit: Kobi Gideon
Yaniv Kubovich

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a Likud campaign video on Monday that faked an Army Radio newscast, which is against the law and against Central Election Committee regulations, which prohibit using the army for campaign purposes. Military lawyers are examining the legal implications of the post. (For the latest election polls – click here)

The video, which the prime minister posted on his Twitter account and Facebook page, presents a fake Army Radio news report in which prominent opposition candidates hold key roles in a new government, and Israel is faced with a deteriorated security situation. The video uses Army Radio’s opening theme and its full name in the phony broadcast.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 40

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The text accompanying the video states: “If you don’t vote MAHAL [the letters that appear on the Likud ballot], this nightmare will become a reality.”

A man impersonating an Army Radio newscaster states that Joint List lawmaker Ahmad Tibi “was appointed interior minister and member of the security cabinet,” and that he ordered “not to allow Jews onto the Temple Mount until further notice.” The fake newscaster refers to the prime minister as “opposition chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu.”

The false broadcast says that the worsening security situation has led to rocket fire on the central Israeli towns of Kfar Sava and Rosh Ha’ayin from the area of the Palestinian town of Qalqilyah. Kahol Lavan’s Benny Gantz, whom the fake report presents as the prime minister who is currently at a peace conference in Ramallah, is quoted as calling for the Palestinians to stop blowing up buses now that a peace agreement has been signed between Israel and Palestine.

Ehud Barak and Stav Shaffir of the Democratic Union are presented as the defense and interior ministers. In the video, Barak and Shaffir pledge to give more land to the Palestinians and release security prisoners in return for calm. The fake newscaster then says that U.S. President Donald Trump has canceled a meeting with Kahol Lavan’s Yair Lapid because the latter concluded a deal with a number of European countries to support a nuclear agreement with Iran.

The clip ends with the newscaster asking: “Scary? Troubling? You can choose how your future will look.” He calls on listeners to vote for Netanyahu and Likud.

According to a legal opinion issued by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, the law on campaign propaganda prohibits use of the army and its soldiers for the 90 days leading up to the election and on Election Day itself. This includes publishing photos of the prime minister and defense minister, or any other candidate of any party, with soldiers.

In January the chairman of the Central Elections Committee, Justice Hanan Melcer, ruled that Netanyahu had broken the law by posting a video on his personal Facebook page that shows him at an Israel Air Force base with the chief of staff and the Air Force commander. Melcer ordered that post and any similar ones to be deleted. But in August, Netanyahu posted a photo of an Iron Dome battery with the caption, “Israel has an Iron Dome and an iron fist. I wouldn’t recommend that our enemies try us,” with his signature next to it.

The next day, after Israel Defense Forces soldier Dvir Sorek was murdered in a terror attack, Netanyahu posted a video from the scene of the murder in which he stands next to Nadav Padan, the chief of the IDF Central Command. “I have no doubt that we’ll catch the perpetrator of this terrible murder. We’ll settle accounts with them and with those who sent them,” he says in the video.

Army Radio responded that it had nothing to do with the video Netanyahu posted.