Israeli Defense Minister Rails Against IDF Whistle-Blower NGO Breaking the Silence
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon railed against Breaking the Silence, an Israeli NGO based in Jersualem, in a Facebook post on Monday, after the group took part in a Haaretz conference in New York over the weekend.
The defense minister charged Breaking the Silence with engaging in “hypocrisy and false propaganda” in an attempt to delegitmize the Israeli defense establishment.
Ya’alon said he would forbid Breaking the Silence members from being present in any IDF activities. Undermining the group’s legitimacy, the defense minister said that there had been unsuccessful investigations into claims made through Breaking the Silence testimonies in the past.
Breaking the Silence was founded by former Israeli soldiers and IDF officials. It offers a platform for former soldiers stationed in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War — to confidentially describe the things they saw while on duty.
Testimonies from a Breaking the Silence report about the 2014 Gaza war included tales of “revenge attacks” by Israeli soldiers and the demolition of Palestinian houses by the IDF. The report was covered in the international press apparently before the Israeli military authorities were given the chance to investigate the claims, which were handed over anonymously.
“This is an outrageous, intolerable phenomenon and we have no intention of compromising in the battle on behalf of IDF soldiers,” said Ya’alon. “Even I have experienced such personal persecution in various countries throughout the world, but we cannot let such a thing keep our hands tied.”
Israeli officials have also criticized the group after reports revealed it gets much — if not the majority — of its funding from foreign sources, including several European governments.
Breaking the Silence meanwhile rejected Ya’alon’s comments on its own Facebook post on Monday, and promised to continue gathering and releasing testimonies.