Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an online Q&A session with the public on Monday evening, answering questions on a range of topics — from the security situation in the north and settlement evacuation to his favorite soccer club — but avoiding tough questions on corruption investigations into his alleged misdeeds and talks with the Hamas terror group in Gaza.
Netanyahu, who rarely agrees to be interviewed by the Israeli press, invited his Instagram followers to ask him anything, making use of a new feature in the social media platform’s “Stories” enabling users to collect anonymous questions and republish them along with the answers.
“How would you define our security situation?” one user asked, with the prime minister answering: “We are protecting ourselves with our own forces — and that is the whole difference in our nation’s destiny.”
Asked whether Israel was properly taking care of the situation on the country’s northern frontier with Lebanon and Syria and whether Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces have retaken the border area from the rebels, creating a humanitarian crisis, Netanyahu simply answered: “[We are] taking care of it all the time.”
Answering a question about his relationship with Indian President Narendra Modi, Netanyahu said he was “a personal close friend and a great friend of the State of Israel.”
Another user asked whether he should buy a house in the Samaria region in the northern West Bank “or should I fear a future evacuation?”
In response Netanyahu said: “I try not to give purchasing tips, but I promise you that communities in the Land of Israel won’t be evacuated.”
Several of the questions Netanyahu chose to tackle revealed a lighter side to the often stern leader.
Asked how many hours he sleeps at night, the premier answered: “Normally seven hours and sometimes not at all, when the hotline rings. I catch up on sleep on Shabbat or when the hotline doesn’t ring.”
His favorite food? “Pasta and fish.”
Soccer? The prime minister said he supported the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club, one of Israel’s top teams and a favorite among his political base.
The prime minister said he was an “avid fan! Don’t you know? Go Beitar! I would love to come to a match but wouldn’t like to disturb fans with the security arrangements.”
The Q&A was held entirely in Hebrew, unlike a Twitter session the prime minister held in 2016 for Israel’s 68th Independence Day.
Many of Netanyahu’s answers repeated messages he has stressed in recent public addresses.
But notably, he refrained from answering questions on the recent flareup in the Gaza Strip, where a fragile, unconfirmed ceasefire has apparently taken hold with Hamas, which rules the Palestinian enclave and seeks to destroy Israel, after months of rockets and incendiary kites and balloons launched into Israel.
Netanyahu has been criticized by many right-wing figures, including Minister Naftali Bennett, for holding talks with the terror group and agreeing to a truce without receiving Israeli captives and bodies of IDF soldiers believes to be held in Gaza.
The prime minister also ignored all the questions about graft probes, in two of which police have recommended he be indicted for bribery, and other questions on topics less comfortable for him.
He ended the session, however, with a possible hint at the ongoing support he has received despite the fraud allegations: “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the support.”