A mayor of a small town in the United States sparked an international incident after saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's son has sent them a shipment of sought-after medical gear as a gesture of goodwill in the wake of coronavirus crisis.
In a now deleted tweet posted Wednesday, Mayor Sandy Stimpson from the town of Mobile, Alabama thanked Yair Netanyahu for sending them 1,000 sought-after N95 masks.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Israeli government has been frantically trying to obtain the needed protective medical gear, even placing an order with a company in Turkey.
"Halalujia! Today, we received an unexpected gift of 1,000 N95 masks from my friend Yair Netanyahu, the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," wrote the mayor in a now-deleted tweet. "Yair visited my office last year to share ideas on how to improve law enforcement. We are incredibly blessed by his donation, which is sorely needed.”
The tweet was deleted 24 hours later and Stimpson changed the name of the donor from Yair Netnayhau to Yisroel Stefansky, the President of The Advanced Security Training Institute (ASTI).
ASTI is a self-proclaimed non-profit the deals in emergency training for police, defense and medical staff.
However, an earlier tweet by Stimpson praising Yair for the masks was not deleted.
"We got to know Yair when he visited Mobile last year to learn more about our approach to law enforcement," the tweet said. "These masks are sorely needed and will be put to immediate use by our first responders and health care workers who are on the front lines in the fight against coronavirus."
In another tweet the day after, Stimpson said that "We immediately made arrangements to deliver 500 N95 masks to Crowne Health Care. We know this much-needed equipment, donated to us this week by our friend Yair Netanyahu of Israel, will be put to good use."
In addition, a video of Stimpson with Jim Jewell, the head of the FBI's Mobile Division, was also posted online. In the video, Jewell praises Yair for sending the protective face masks as "a token of thanks for the visit here last year."
Stimpson in the video said that both Stafinsky and Netanyahu visited the town last year where they taught and learned from our first responders and police.
"Not in our wildest dreams would we think they will remember us in this crisis."
When asked about the donation to the city of Mobile, the prime minister's son denied any connection to the delivery.
"The organization that Yair worked for (ASTI) was the one who procured the masks and sent them to Mobile in his name, without his knowledge, as part of a pro-Israeli publicity campaign led by the organization," said a spokesperson for the Netanyahu family.
Yair himself blasted the media and said he was not involved with the shipment of the gear.
"They [the media] have completely lost their minds to the point that they need to be institutionalized," he said on his Twitter account. "I was in Mobile as part of a speaking tour across the United States. The organization I worked for gave those masks in my name without me knowing and even then, they [the media] complain and ruin good publicity for Israel."