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'Eli Kouptar': Israeli channel falls for joke about Raisi crash

Iran helicopter crash: French-Israeli channel falls for 'Eli Kouptar' joke regarding Raisi
3 min read
20 May, 2024
Analyst Daniel Haik appeared oblivious to the 'Eli Kouptar' joke which has gained traction on social media, discussing it seriously on live television.
Raisi was travelling in an antiquated Bell 212 chopper which crashed, leading to his death [Getty]

A French-language Israeli channel has been mocked on social media for reporting that a Mossad agent named "Eli Kouptar" was behind the fatal helicopter crash in Iran on Sunday, which killed President Ebrahim Raisi.

The joke, made to look like a person’s name and derived from the word "helicopter", first appeared on a Telegram channel. Eli is also a common Hebrew first name.

The "news" was read out by political analyst Daniel Haik on I24 Français, the French version of the Israel International 24-hour news channel. Haik, in discussion with a fellow commentator, said that a "Hamas-affiliated" group "confirmed that the pilot flying the helicopter was a Mossad agent named Eli Kouptar".

In the viral clip shared online, Haik can be seen seriously discussing the topic and wondering if the rumour was true or false.

"The pilot was a Mossad agent with the name 'Eli Kouptar', it’s not currently clear whether this is true or not, but that’s the rumour going around" he said during the live segment broadcast on Sunday.

Haik’s failure to understand became the source of online merriment, especially since the word "helicopter" is also used in the French language.

One user said, albeit sarcastically: "It’s obvious that they spend a lot of time to verify information."

Another said: "We finally know who the thinking heads of the first degree are."

Iranian President Raisi died late on Sunday alongside a number of a number of senior officials and other personnel, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

The incident is believed to have been caused by averse weather conditions and the density of the area’s forest terrain and the outdated condition of the US-made helicopter Raisi was travelling in.

A total of nine people were on board the aircraft, the Tasnim news agency said.

World leaders – including some from states at loggerheads with Iran – have offered their condolences following the fatal crash.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared five days of national mourning, with Vice President Mohammad Mohkber taking on the role of interim president.

Mokhber will also have 50 days to arrange elections in coordination with the heads of judiciary and legislative branches, state news agency IRNA reported.

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Funeral rites for Raisi and his entourage will start on Tuesday in the north-western city of Tabriz, state media said on Monday.