Israel's ruling party, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud, drew sharp criticism over an election ad released Tuesday in which the left is labeled "dangerous" on the backdrop of a military cemetery.
In the ad, which the Likud summarily shelved, the narrator said that "the public isn't stupid. [Benny] Gantz is left and left is dangerous."
The party said that as soon as the ad was brought to Netanyahu's attention, he ordered it removed. Likud added the prime minister ordered an investigation be conducted. Netanyahu dubbed the ad "an unfortunate mishap."
Likud said it had suspended the narrator, Avishai Ivri, and others involved in the video.
Criticism over what many saw as incitement comes on the heels of another controversial move by the prime minister: His role in orchestrating a far-right merger that could see a Kahanist party enter the Knesset.
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Election rivals Benny Gantz’s and Yair Lapid's Kahol Lavan party said in a statement: “Fallen IDF soldiers and bereaved families did not imagine that a prime minister would use them for political campaign videos. Netanyahu, go, apologize to the families right away, or this stain will follow you all your life. Shame on you, Netanyahu.”
Eli Ben Shem, chairman of the Yad Labanim association, which commemorates fallen soldiers, said the video's release was "a serious incident that hurt bereaved families. Leave us alone, leave our children alone. Take IDF soldiers out of the political debate."
Ivri hit back on Twitter at a journalist who criticized him, writing: "My friends are lying under these stones because of you, I'd shut up if I were you. Some of them fell unnecessarily because of your fantasies. And if I manage to save even one soul from falling on the altar of your hallucinations, it's worth everything to me."