MK Oren Hazan.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MK Oren Hazan (Likud) was accused on Thursday of giving false testimony of service in Operation Protective Edge to NGO Breaking the Silence as part of an investigation of far-left organizations by the Samaria Citizens’ Committee.
The committee’s spokesman Ofer Inbar said hat Hazan, an Ariel resident who lied to Breaking the Silence months before becoming an MK, was a longtime activist with the grassroots advocacy group, and the findings of the investigation in which he took part would be publicized in the coming weeks.
Breaking the Silence collects testimonies of soldiers who allege IDF abuse toward Palestinians.
Inbar would not divulge if the Samaria Citizens’ Committee sent other volunteers to Break the Silence or if other organizations were targeted by the probe, saying only that the committee “will continue working to expose all the extreme-left NGOs in every way. They are all in our crosshairs.”
On Tuesday, Breaking the Silence released to Channel 10 News audio of Hazan, who identified himself by his middle name Assaf, saying that in Operation Protective Edge he saw a sniper shoot at someone without authorization from his officers, and the officer said “I don’t care if they take down the whole house, because I am concerned for myself.”
When Channel 10 asked Hazan if he “spoke nonsense,” Hazan replied “about Operation Protective Edge, yes, that was the whole idea. They have a lot of testimony that is fictional.”
Later Tuesday, Hazan wrote on Facebook that he’s “not surprised that the extreme left-wing organization Breaking the Silence went to the press, which was happy to cooperate with it, with the ‘scoop.’” “Friends, this is the time to shatter another lie by Breaking the Silence… which aims to harm IDF soldiers and our country. I did identify myself with only part of my name and testified to the organization, all as part of an operation I planned with the Samaria Citizens’ Committee to expose Breaking the Silence’s lies and prove once and for all, with facts and documentation, what perverse methods they use to get false testimony against IDF soldiers,” Hazan wrote.
The MK added that he gave the false testimony months before December’s Likud primary. “I can promise you that even in the legislature, I will continue protecting and defending IDF soldiers,” he added. “I will prevent any harm to the best of our sons who pay in their blood and their lives so we can all live here.” Hazan declined to further comment on the investigation on Thursday.
Breaking the Silence spokesman Yehuda Shaul said that Hazan’s interviewer immediately suspected he was lying, and that he was glad that the screening process, which all testimony the NGO receives undergoes, works.
This incident is not the first time Hazan or the Samaria Citizens’ Committee courted controversy.
Hazan is the son of former MK Yehiel Hazan, who was caught double-voting – both in his name and in another MK’s name – in 2003, and then attempting to tamper with the evidence. Shortly after the election, Channel 2 News reported that the younger Hazan used to run a casino in Bulgaria, where gambling is legal, unlike in Israel. Since then, Hazan’s legend grew, to the point that on Monday night, satirical TV program Eretz Nehederet featured an impression of him, and at Tuesday’s Knesset inauguration, the biggest trend was a selfie with Hazan.
The Samaria Citizens’ Committee produced a video using Nazi motifs in February. The clip compared Europe to Nazi Germany and left-wing Israelis to collaborators, with the former paying off the latter with gold coins to slander Israel.