The Likud party submitted an incitement complaint to police on Monday after several images of presumptive incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, among them photos of him with a Hitler mustache and dressed as Hitler, were put up in the corridors of a Ramat Gan elementary school.
However, after an investigation into the incident, the Education Ministry clarified that the display was part of a school activity about political discourse.
“This was a presentation that was put up after an educational activity against incitement, which called for a change in the discourse and an end to violence,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the images of Netanyahu were accompanied by photos of other leaders.
Acknowledging the misunderstanding, the ministry nonetheless criticized the manner in which the pictures were displayed.
Attention was first called to the photos by Ramat Gan City Council member Moshe Revach of Likud, who posted the photos on his Facebook account, claiming the presentation constituted incitement against Netanyahu.
“A swastika and noose in the corridor of Yahalom Elementary School in Ramat Gan! This insanity needs to end!” wrote Revach.
Several photos of the Likud leader were captioned with the word “traitor.”
The Ramat Gan Municipality initially said a teacher put up the “shameful pictures” by themselves on Sunday afternoon.
“The principal of the school was required to remove the photos before students arrived at school, give an explanation to the students, and call on the teacher in question to make a clarification,” the municipality said in a statement.
Threats to witness in Netanyahu trial
Separately on Monday, a prosecutor in Netanyahu’s criminal trial updated the Jerusalem District Court that a witness in one of the cases had been threatened on social media.
In a tweet on Sunday, Likud activist and lawyer Kinneret Barashi called for the next health minister — likely to serve in a Netanyahu-led coalition — to “put the lady Dana Neufeld on a four-year sabbatical,” referring to the witness, who works at the Health Ministry. The tweet has since been removed from the account.
Neufeld, who had formerly served as legal counsel for the Communications Ministry, is a witness in Case 4000.
According to allegations, Netanyahu used his powers when he served as both premier and communications minister from 2014 to 2017 to illicitly benefit telecommunications magnate Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Bezeq, in exchange for positive coverage of the prime minister and his family by the Elovitch-owned Walla news site.
“Yesterday there was an escalation on another level in our view, when a certain party called on an intended minister to lay off a witness that works at the same office and testified a few months ago at the trial,” prosecutor Yehudit Tirosh told the court.
“We think things like this may have a bad effect on witnesses, especially in the group of witnesses among whom are employees at government ministries,” she added, noting that the prosecution was working with law enforcement to figure out what could be done about the incident.
Netanyahu is on trial in three corruption cases. He faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000 and in Case 2000, and charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in Case 4000. He denies wrongdoing and says the charges were fabricated in a political coup led by the police and state prosecution.
Having led his bloc of right-wing and religious parties to victory in elections on November 1, Netanyahu is hoping to form a coalition and return as prime minister.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.