‘Trying to cause anarchy’: Lapid accuses PM of ties to IDF reservist’s call for mutiny

Yesh Atid MKs call for criminal investigation into Netanyahu’s son Yair after he shares video calling for soldiers to take orders only from the prime minister

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid (left) leads a meeting of his Yesh Atid party at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 20, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90); Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement on May 22, 2024. (Screen capture)
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid (left) leads a meeting of his Yesh Atid party at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 20, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90); Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement on May 22, 2024. (Screen capture)

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid accused the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “trying to cause anarchy” on Sunday, after Netanyahu’s son helped spread a video of an IDF reservist threatening mutiny unless the government pursues “complete victory” over Hamas.

The clip, which was first shared on social media by the staunchly pro-Netanyahu journalist Yinon Magal and later reposted by Netanyahu’s son, Yair, showed an armed and masked man vowing to refuse orders from IDF chief Herzi Halevi and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and asserting that soldiers will only listen to Netanyahu.

Speaking with the Ynet news site, Lapid appeared to hint that the prime minister was in some way linked to the controversial video, stating, “There are situations where the opposition called for anarchy; this time the government is trying to cause anarchy.”

“After all,” he asserted, “it’s not a random video if Netanyahu’s son and Yinon Magal posted it.”

“This is the Prime Minister’s Office, after all, they are always coordinated,” Lapid added somewhat ambiguously. “If the prime minister helps spread messages against his defense minister and the IDF chief of staff — this is a call to anarchy.” He further accused Netanyahu of caring only about his political survival.

In response, the Prime Minister’s Office told Ynet that “instead of spreading more fake news about the prime minister, Yair Lapid should condemn refusals from all sides as the prime minister consistently does.”

Lapid’s allegations against the prime minister came as two members of his Yesh Atid party — MKs Karine Elharrar and Yoav Segalovitz — submitted a letter to the State Attorney’s Office demanding a criminal investigation into Magal and the younger Netanyahu.

“We emphasize that the distribution of such a video, both in general and during wartime in particular, is a very serious offense in and of itself, constituting de facto harm to both national strength and national security,” the lawmakers wrote.

A screenshot of a video purporting to show an IDF reservist in Gaza threatening mutiny published on May 24, 2024. (Screencapture/X: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Gallant, speaking to troops in Rafah on Sunday, said that “in the IDF, there is only one authority, it is the authority of the commander. Each person has their commander: the company commander, the battalion commander, the brigade commander, the division commander, the general [at the head of the regional command], and finally the chief of staff, he is the one who gives instructions in the army.”

“There are no third parties… this is the law and that’s how it works and that’s how it will work,” he added.

The military said it had opened a criminal probe into the video. On Sunday, the IDF said a suspect was being interrogated by Military Police. The investigation was ongoing, the military added.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the video is for you. We reservist soldiers do not intend to hand the keys over to any Palestinian authority. We do not intend to give the keys to Gaza to any entity — Hamas, Fatah or any other Arab entity,” the soldier declared in the video.

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; you have 100,000 reservist soldiers that are ready to give their lives for the people of Israel. Ready to die. We lost everything, we lost our family life, we lost our livelihoods and we have nowhere to go. We will stay here, until the end. Until the victory,” he continued.

“Yoav Gallant, you can’t win the war. Quit. You can’t win this war. You can’t command us,” the reservist said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant attend a press conference at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)

The video circulated just over a week after Gallant went on television to tell Netanyahu that he would not consent to any Israeli civil or military governance of Gaza, and that governance by Palestinian entities that aren’t Hamas, accompanied by international actors, is in Israel’s interest.

Waiting until after Shabbat to respond to the controversial video, Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying that “the prime minister has warned many times about the dangers of the phenomenon of insubordination and the permissive attitude towards it.”

The PMO statement did not directly reference the video or his son’s sharing of the clip, but stated that Netanyahu has been “consistent” in his position on military refusal and that he “rejects outright any refusal [to serve] from any side.”

Emanuel Fabian and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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