Apr 1, 2020 - World

Scoop: Netanyahu shared fake video as proof of Iranian virus cover-up

Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared with his Cabinet a video he claimed was evidence of Iran concealing coronavirus deaths by dropping bodies in garbage dumps, two Cabinet ministers tell me.

Behind the scenes: Several hours later, Netanyahu's office realized the video had nothing to do with Iran, or with the coronavirus crisis. It was a clip from “Pandemic," a 2007 Hallmark Channel mini-series.

The backdrop: Iran has been Netanyahu's top foreign policy focus for 25 years. Israeli intelligence believes there have been up to five times more coronavirus deaths there than the 3,036 that have been officially acknowledged, an Israeli official tells me. Netanyahu thought he'd seen evidence of a cover-up.

During a conference call with Cabinet ministers on Monday, Netanyahu said he'd seen a video of Iranian soldiers loading bodies onto trucks and dropping them at garbage dumps.

  • According to two ministers who were on the call, Netanyahu said his national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, had shown him the video.
  • Many of the ministers asked to watch the video, and Netanyahu asked his national security adviser to send it to the entire Cabinet.
  • The video had been shared by Iranians on social media over the last week, and it was passed on to Netanyahu without any confirmation of its authenticity.

The prime minister’s office didn’t deny this account. It said the video had only been sent to three Cabinet ministers who requested it and were told it came from social media and its authenticity was unclear.

Go deeper: Israel stunned as rivals Netanyahu and Gantz join forces

Go deeper

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump backs off push to federalize forces against riots

Photo: Brendan Smialowski /AFP via Getty Images

A day after threatening to federalize forces to snuff out riots across the country, the president appears to be backing off the idea of invoking the Insurrection Act, sources familiar with his plans tell Axios.

What we're hearing: Aides say he hasn’t ruled out its use at some point, but that he's “pleased” with the way protests were handled last night (apart from in New York City, as he indicated on Twitter today) — and that for now he's satisfied with leaving the crackdown to states through local law enforcement and the National Guard.

What we expect from our bosses

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Workers — especially millennials and Gen Zers — are paying close attention to the words and actions of their employers during national crises, such as the protests following the killing of George Floyd in police custody.

Why it matters: American companies have an enormous amount of wealth and influence that they can put toward effecting change, and CEOs have the potential to fill the leadership vacuum left by government inaction. More and more rank-and-file employees expect their bosses to do something with that money and power.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Updates: George Floyd protests continue for 8th day

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day, prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: The National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday that while it "is committed to the peaceful expression of First Amendment rights," it "cannot tolerate violence to citizens or officers or damage to our nation’s resources that we are entrusted to protect."