Israeli politicians from both left and right were fuming on Thursday evening, after a Channel 2 [Israeli channel] investigative report revealed that members of Breaking the Silence organization apparently tried to gather intelligence information about some Israeli occupation forces (IOF) operations along the fence with the Gaza Strip.
According to the Israeli media, the report by the Israeli right-wing Ad Kan* group “revealed how Breaking the Silence, which claims to be a “human rights organization,” tried to gather classified intelligence about sensitive IDF operations along the Gaza border with Hamas.”
‘Breaking the Silence has crossed another red line,” Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said after the report was aired. “The investigative security forces are looking into the matter.”
Below some reactions from different Israeli politicians:
Israeli Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said he was “shocked by the findings of the investigation on Breaking the Silence…such activity has no connection to an ideological debate about what is happening in “Judea and Samaria” (occupied West Bank), raises serious concerns over the use of Breaking the Silence as a spying tool against the IDF and requires an immediate investigation of the Shin Bet and the Military Police. If necessary, those responsible should be brought to justice.”
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) called the findings of the investigation “serious” and added, “I call on the police and on all relevant parties to immediately investigate the findings and reveal once and for all the truth behind the organization.”
Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home) said, “I urge the Israeli police and the Shin Bet to immediately launch an investigation following the reports about Breaking the Silence and bring them to justice.”
“There is no doubt from watching the report that this organization is a fifth column and that these are individuals whose sole purpose is to collect intelligence and operate against security forces in an improper manner,” Ben-Dahan added.
Israeli Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said he was stunned by the findings and believes that they have nothing to do with human rights, which Breaking the Silence claims to deal with.
“It’s time to say ‘enough’ to Breaking the Silence. As Speaker of the Knesset, I believe that the law enforcement authorities must investigate the matter and determine what sensitive information is in their hands and if, God forbid, they are making inappropriate use of it.”
Israeli MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) said that “the activities of Breaking the Silence, as revealed tonight, crossed a red line that should not be crossed. These are very serious findings which point to the systematic gathering of evidence against the army, against the state, against us. There is no choice but a police investigation.”
Israeli MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) added, “The findings are very serious and very disturbing and there’s no difference between left and right in this matter. Instead of [Breaking the Silence’s] declared activities with regards to human rights – we discovered a subversive activity of collecting classified intelligence and operational information that we do not know to whom it was passed on and for what.”
Channel 2 news broadcast a documentary on Thursday evening filmed with hidden cameras by activists of the right-wing organization Ad Kan (“enough” in Hebrew), which shows Breaking the Silence members asking veteran Israeli soldiers a series of questions about details of the IOF’s operations and equipment along the fence with the Gaza Strip, including:
“The mortar platoon, are they stationed inside the checkpoint area?”
“Doesn’t the company over there do border fence missions?”
“What were the missions there?”
“What do you mean, working on the tunnels?”
“Is this operational or is this an experiment?”
The questions relate to how Hamas tunnels were discovered, what special forces were deployed and when, what kind of gun is deployed atop an IOF robot vehicle and more.
Breaking the Silence CEO Yuli Novak, in response to the Channel 2 report, denied the organization had collected any classified materials.
“We don’t collect classified material and we don’t monitor units,” Novak said.
“This is the work of several organizations that, alongside Israeli MKs from the Likud and Bayit Yehudi parties, are working to silence those who seek to criticize the government and the occupation. We’re working closely with the IOF censor, the only body authorized to determine what can be published and what cannot.”
In response to Netanyahu’s condemnation, Breaking the Silence said:
“A prime minister that turns Israel’s security services into a political tool – that is the true dangerous crossing of a red line, and should be investigated. Breaking the Silence has nothing to hide or fear, but Prime Minister Netanyahu’s attempt to shut down Breaking the Silence and hurt soldiers and fighters who oppose the occupation should worry anything who is concerned for the future of the State of Israel.”
*The group, named “Ad Kan” arms its members with hidden cameras in order to capture high-profile leftists doing or saying things they probably should not be doing or saying. This way, Ad Kan’s founders claim, it can be proven once and for all that Israeli human rights groups actually care very little about human rights.