Bill seeks to censor names of soldiers under investigation

The initiative proposed by Zionist Union MKs Eyal Ben-Reuven and Tzipi Livni would apply to investigations of possible crimes committed while the soldier is on duty.

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March 30, 2016 16:29
2 minute read.
idf soldier court

IDF sodlier who shot a neutralized Palestinian terrorist in Hebron in court, March 29, 2016. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)

 
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Legislation banning the publication of the name of a soldier on active duty if he is under investigation passed a first reading in the Knesset Wednesday.

The initiative, proposed by Zionist Union MKs Eyal Ben-Reuven and Tzipi Livni, would apply to investigations of possible crimes committed while the soldier is on duty.

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Though the bill was proposed long before, the issue of publicizing soldiers’ names made headlines this week after the Beit Shemesh Municipality promoted a demonstration in favor of the IDF soldier accused of killing an already subdued Palestinian terrorist in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood on March 24. The soldier’s photo and name, both under a gag order, were featured on the municipality’s website. In addition, the soldier’s name and picture have been shared widely on social media.

If the bill becomes law – which is likely, as it has support from the coalition – it would be illegal to publish a soldier’s name in all of the following instances: before the soldier is indicted; if he or she is not indicted after the investigation; if the soldier is charged with a crime but not convicted yet; or if he or she is acquitted.

Publishing the name would carry a six-month prison sentence.

Military courts would have the right to lift the publication ban in the following instances: if it is in the public interest; if the soldier asked that they do so; publishing the name would help the police find a witness or fugitive; or to warn the public of a potential danger.

Livni spoke about the soldier in Hebron and subsequent political debate about how he should be handled, saying that the bill is meant “to do exactly what is necessary and not to take advantage of the IDF for politics, as some members of this House have done.”

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Ben-Reuven said that no army in the world invests more efforts in the ethics of war than the IDF.

Still, he added, “when [a soldier] reaches the battlefield, it is different, and the dilemmas are always different than they were in the classroom or in exercises. There are mistakes in judgment, out of negligence or inappropriate behavior. Everything must be checked and investigated.”

Ben-Reuven said soldiers must be given strong support so they can fulfill their mission.

“Releasing a name is crossing a redline,” he stated. “It cannot be that our soldiers are sent into battle when the enemy is not the only threat they are facing.”

The bill passed a first reading, with 36 in favor and none opposed, and will be brought to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

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