(JTA) – A placard critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was removed from the Jerusalem grave of a soldier who was killed while fighting in Gaza.
The placard, which was removed Thursday from the grave of Leet Matt, read: “Lillik died on the watch of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bibi, and of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Bogie.”
In a statement to the news site nrg.co.il, a Defense Ministry spokesperson on Friday said that the sign was removed following complaints by visitors to the cemetery. A guitar and a surfboard that were placed by the family near the grave were also removed.
Signs carrying political or partisan messages are not allowed in military cemeteries, the spokesperson added.
Motti Matt, Lee Matt’s father, accused the ministry of “coming like thieves in the night” to take the objects. “They should be ashamed of themselves; they are bullying the dead.”
The Matt family wants military authorities to allow it to place the names of siblings of Lee Matt on his headstone at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery as a symbol of their devotion to their brother. The family says the inscription is permitted under recent laws allowing personal messages on military headstones, while the military says it is not.
Because of the ministry’s refusal to add the siblings’ names, the Matt family declined to place any headstone at the grave. They put the placard in its place.
Staff Sgt Lee Matt, a 19-year-old Paratroopers Brigade soldier from Eilat, died last year during Israel’s Protective Edge offensive on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.