Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his brother Dr. Ido Netanyahu, met at the PM’s Office in Jerusalem with Yosef Shemesh on Monday, who gave them personal items belonging to their brother, the late Yoni Netanyahu HY”D. Yosef Shemesh had kept the items since he and Yoni served together in the Armored Corps 71st Battalion on the Golan Heights.
Among the items which the Prime Minister and his brother received were Yoni’s commando knife, the haggadah that Yoni used – which he mentions in his letters, his personal jumpsuit, books that he had given to Yosef Shemesh, a unit shirt, sleeping bag, gloves and compass.
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the media “Yosef was one of Yoni’s soldiers in the Armored Corps 71st Battalion on the Golan Heights after the Yom Kippur War. Since then he has kept these personal items of Yoni’s and has brought them to us now. My brother Ido and I are very impressed. We recognize some of these items. This commando knife was in the unit. We recognize Yoni’s books. Here is the Haggadah, ahead of Pesach, that he used at the seder he held for his soldiers. This is a very moving memento from the past. I am very grateful, thank you.”
Dr. Ido Netanyahu said “It is very moving after so many years to see these things, especially the haggadah that Yoni wrote about in his letters. He wrote about the special seder he held while in the battalion in a very special and very moving letter.”
It is now reported however the items, at least some of them, may not be authentic. There are reports the haggadah was printed four years after Yoni was killed in the Entebbe Operation in 1976. There are also reports that in the past, Shemesh tried to sell some of the items but there were no buyers for fear they were not authentic as claimed. Ynet reports that Shemesh tried to sell them for tens of thousands of shekels, to two different auction houses, but they both declined.
The Prime Minister’s Office responded, “The prime minister and his brothers were happy to meet with a person who knew Yoni and to hear about Yoni, and the security establishment did a few tests and spoke to the recruits and the people in the battalion who knew they knew each other. We received a recommendation to meet with the man. The items will now be reviewed in depth. We know for a fact that these are books of the unit and books that Yoni read them. The man did not ask us for money and did not receive money from us.”
The Prime Minister’s Office admitted that they did not know that Shemesh had offered the items for sale in auction houses and had been rejected.
Yosef Shemesh told Ynet on Sunday that they are mistaken and that he was not the same person. In the second conversation, he changed his version and said that he was forbidden to be interviewed and referred to his lawyer, who did not respond to the matter for the time being.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem/photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom, GPO)