Public Security Minister Amir Ohana on Friday uploaded a video interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper in which he could be seen shooting at a target labeled “the center bloc,” just days ahead of the election.
Following a backlash, Ohana, a key ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, removed the video and issued an apology, blaming the paper for the “abhorrent thing [added] in the editing.”
The edit included an image of crosshairs and the words “center bloc,” a term used to refer to some of Netanyahu’s rivals.
“In the editing, they added to the screen a ‘center bloc’ [text] that did not appear in reality, which may create an interpretation that is of course detached from reality,” Ohana said. “We will defeat our political rivals at the ballot box — we are not enemies, we are one people.”
לראשונה בחיי, או בכל אופן עד כמה שאני זוכר, אני מוחק כאן מהעמוד סרטון שעלה אתמול ומעלה אותו מחדש לאחר שהוסרה ממנו התוספת…
An apparently unmanipulated version of the video was reuploaded shortly thereafter to the minister’s Facebook page.
The Israel Hayom paper said in a statement that it added the “humorous but in bad taste” graphic during the editing process, saying it “did not intend to create an interpretation that implies violence” and that it “apologizes if someone was hurt by it.”
Israel Hayom is often seen as a mouthpiece for Likud and its leader Netanyahu. The paper did not clarify whether Ohana was consulted on the edit.
Ohana, whose ministry is in charge of policing, is positioned 18th on the Likud list ahead of the upcoming elections and is expected to enter the Knesset for the fifth time.
Critics have accused Netanyahu of frequently inciting against his rivals and their supporters.
The election — the fourth in two years — will be held on Tuesday.
Like the previous three votes, the election is largely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu’s rule amid his ongoing trial on corruption charges, as well as his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.