Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during the cabinet meeting on Sunday that efforts by Breaking the Silence activists to get former IDF soldiers to reveal classified military information “is insufferable, and is being dealt with by the relevant authorities.”
On Thursday night, soon after a Channel 2 report on the organization’s tactics was aired, Netanyahu issued a statement saying that the group had “crossed a redline,” and the matter was being investigated.
Breaking the Silence is a nongovernmental organization founded by IDF veterans in order to collect testimonies of soldiers who served in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to document allegations of abuse or mistreatment of Palestinians.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely also took the organization to task as a result of the report, saying that while for years Breaking the Silence has defamed Israel in the eyes of the world, the report showed that in addition to causing problems for Israel’s image, it was also causing security problems.
Hotovely called for an immediate police investigation and to reveal “for once and for all the truth behind this organization.”
In response to the prime minister’s comments, Breaking the Silence said, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have turned the security services of Israel and the IDF into a tool for political witch-hunts. This crosses a dangerous redline and should be investigated. The IDF is the army of the people and is not against the people.”
The NGO added that it works closely with the IDF’s Military Censor in order to determine what it is able to publish and that “dangerous attempt by the Netanyahu government to silence soldiers and civilians in Israel who are opposed to the occupation and the policies of the government should be the source of great concern for all those who worry about democracy and the future of Israel.”
MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) on Saturday accused Netanyahu and his government of going after left-wing groups for political reasons, saying, “If they are breaking the law, they will be investigated and punished, but I won’t take part in this hate fest which is meant to garner political dividends.”
She added that the campaign against Breaking the Silence and other NGOs “is meant to distract from the fact that the government hasn’t found a solution to the 200 terrorist attacks in a year, and that there’s no solution for dealing with our external enemy.”
In the segment aired on Thursday night on Channel 2 – which was broadcast after it was cleared by the Military Censor – hidden camera footage shows members of the organization interviewing right-wing activists from the group Ad Kan, posing as former soldiers giving testimony about their time serving on the Gaza border.
The segment also shows a left-wing activist at a protest in the West Bank who says that before she enlisted in the IDF’s Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria for her military service, a member of Breaking the Silence told her to expect to have information for the group after her service is over.
On Friday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that he had instructed the IDF to open an investigation into the alleged leak of classified information by soldiers to Breaking the Silence.
“Following the article on Channel 2 on the activities of Breaking the Silence, I have directed the IDF to conduct an investigative inquiry into soldiers’ release of classified information from their army service,” Ya’alon posted on Twitter.
Maariv Online reported on Friday that the Military Advocate-General’s Office, the Information Security Department and the Military Police would summon soldiers for an investigation on Sunday, but a spokesman for Breaking the Silence said late afternoon Sunday that it had not been contacted by the army since the Channel 2 segment aired. Regarding whether soldiers had been or would be brought in for questioning, the IDF Spokesman’s Office responded that “The matter is being examined.”