Israeli politicians are considering two initiatives this week with the aim to silence high profile anti-occupation groups. According to the Guardian, the measures include the establishment of an inquiry into groups receiving foreign funding, as well as legal provisions to allow the shutdown of groups working to “have [Israeli] soldiers tried under international law”.
They take aim at the actions of Breaking the Silence advocacy group, which anonymously publicises accounts and actions of Israeli soldiers involved in the occupation of Palestine.
Moves to curb the group’s activities through inquiries into funding mechanisms have been on the rise, alongside a civil campaign by Israeli pro-settlement groups to infiltrate and threaten its staff.
Other groups are also implicated by the moves, including Israeli rights groups HaMoked and B’Tselem, which work towards exposing human rights abuses under the Israeli regime. A recent published report revealed abuse suffered by Palestinian minors in Israeli custody.
The report, published on Wednesday, includes 60 affidavits collected from Palestinian teenagers arrested between May 2015 and October 2016. They show a pattern of institutionalised abuse, with clear policy creating harsh and unlawful conditions for underage Palestinians.
The measures are part of a wider crackdown on freedom of speech relating to the actions of the Israeli occupying forces. Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, notes that the process has been advancing since 2011, and fears a “shrinking space for civil society… Aimed at organisations that oppose the occupation.”