A photo posted on the Israel Defense Forces website in honor of Pride Month showing two male soldiers in uniform holding hands was staged, according to an Israeli news website.
Only one of the soldiers is gay and both work for the IDF Spokesman’s Office, The Times of Israel reported shortly after the photo went viral on Facebook earlier this week.
The photo posted Monday and captioned “It’s Pride Month. Did you know that the IDF treats all of its soldiers equally?” had garnered more than 10,800 likes and more than 8,800 shares, as well as 1,555 comments as of Thursday evening.
Positive comments appear to outnumber the negative by a large margin.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Office did not deny the photo was staged, according to the Times of Israel, and said in a statement that “The photo reflects the IDF’s open-minded attitude towards soldiers of all sexual orientations. The IDF respects the privacy of the soldiers featured in the photograph, and will not comment on their identities.”
Meanwhile, Anastassia Michaeli, an Israeli lawmaker from the Yisrael Beiteinu party, made anti-gay statements during a Knesset discussion Wednesday on sexual harassment. Michaeli said that “Most homosexuals are people who experienced sexual abuse at a very young age,” and she accused Israel’s Channel 10 of broadcasting programming that encourages children to be homosexuals,
Yisraeli Beiteinu in a statement distanced itself from the comments. Gay rights leaders and opposition political leaders slammed Michaeli’s remarks.
In January, Michaeli was suspended from the Knesset plenum for a month after she threw water at Labor Party lawmaker Ghaleb Majadele’s face during an Education, Culture and Sports Committee meeting.