IDF radio station apologizes for crack about military hero

Its satirical show made “a mistake” in the way it referred to the prime minister’s brother, who died rescuing the hostages of Entebbe in 1976.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Israeli army’s official radio station apologized Monday for a satirical show that disparaged an IDF hero in order to get a dig at the prime minister, leading to a wave of complaints on social media.

“Galei Tzahal advocates freedom of expression and satire, but within the boundaries of good taste,” said the station. “In this case, it was an unsuccessful joke that was said as part of a satire program and we apologize to those who were hurt.”

The powers-that-be also called in the program’s editor and main presenter, who made the poor joke, for “clarifications.”

The show, called “Status Quo,” aired Thursday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Uganda, where he met its president for a friendly visit. He also met Sudan’s leader, with whom he discussed the possibility of normalizing relations for the first time.

The panelist referred to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s recent pardon of Israeli backpacker Naama Issachar, who had been sentenced last summer to seven and a half years in prison for nine grams of marijuana found in her checked luggage when she made a stopover in Moscow. Netanyahu brought her back to Israel in his plane after meeting Putin in Moscow two weeks ago to discuss the Trump peace plan.

In a joking tone of voice, the panelist said, “This week, our prime minister returned from Uganda … because Putin promised Bibi that he would return Yoni to him. At the end it didn’t happen and [Netanyahu and his wife] had to instead meet the president of Uganda.”

Yonatan (Yoni) Netanyahu was the older brother of the prime minister. He was the commander of the successful 1976 rescue of 94 Jewish and 12 Air France crew hostages being held by Palestinian terrorists in the Ugandan capital’s airport.

Netanyahu was the only military fatality in the mission, and his body was brought back by his comrades, as were the three hostages who were killed in the daring raid. The operation was retroactively named after Yonatan for his heroism.

The Betzalmo Israeli human rights organization, which advocates on behalf of terror victims, wrote a complaint to the station about the program’s “debasement of the death of the commander of the General Staff commando unit and the insult to the bereaved families.”

Former culture minister Limor Livnat (Likud) was one of those who took to Twitter to register her outrage.

“Shameful. And embarrassing to know that this is what was broadcast on our military radio station… Serious and requires urgent action!”