Footage of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempting to look through covered binoculars caused a small stir in the local press and social media on Tuesday, with many comparing the incident to a much-ridiculed photo of former defense minister Amir Peretz in a similar position in 2007.
The Peretz gaffe occurred in February of that year during a military exercise, as he stood at the Golan border alongside then-chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who was looking through a non-covered pair of binoculars. It came months after the end of 2006’s publicly controversial Second Lebanon War, and the public outcry over Israel’s lack of preparedness for that war, as well as a sense of lackluster performance, was at its height.
Though the mistake was brief, and was corrected by Peretz within seconds, the photo became a symbol of his perceived inadequacy at the post, and was even the subject of mockery by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Netanyahu was photographed in the embarrassing pose while on a tour of the Gaza Strip border area on Tuesday. He immediately realized his mistake and removed the coverings, but the damage was done. Ynet News published a lead story featuring the premier gazing out through the blacked out goggles, along with the quote: “Netanyahu: The situation here is under control.”
At a time when the prime minister faces increasing criticism over his handling of resurgent terror on Israel’s streets, and with the Gaza front again heating up, the insinuation was clear: the prime minister is blind to the dangers.
Netanyahu took to Facebook to comment on the blunder. Sharing a photo of himself during his army service — where he served in the elite Sayeret Matkal special forces unit — he noted: “I would like to calm Ynet and Yedioth (Ahronoth). I have a little bit of experience with binoculars.”