Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Tuesday approved the State Prosecutor’s decision from two years ago that a criminal investigation should not be opened against Breaking the Silence, Channel 13 News reported.
A complaint was filed against BtS that its personnel had provided classified information to entities outside of Israel – but the State Prosecutor’s Office ruled that no such evidence was found proving that claim and other allegations.
The opinion of the State Attorney’s Office, written by head of the criminal division Rachel Matar, stated that “there is no known case in which the organization published secret information that it holds in its possession without the approval of the military censor,” and, “no evidence was found showing that Breaking the Silence or its operatives provided classified information to persons outside Israel.”
BtS CEO Avner Gvaryahu said in response to the decision that “after three years, the truth comes out and the right-wing incitement campaign has crashed. Now it is clear to everyone that the settler organizations lied to the press, the prosecution, the public, and to all of us. Anyone who tried to mark soldiers who break the silence as traitors, spies and foreign agents has failed this time too. It’s time for them to understand – the reality of the occupation is stronger than any false campaign by right-wing organizations.”
Back in March 2016, then Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon defined the Breaking the Silence’s activities as treason. Ya’alon. Responding to a question, Ya’alon that “they ask soldiers questions that are an operational secret, and if they use it outside, it’s treachery and that’s serious, and if they keep it to themselves, why should they know about it?”
Ya’alon, who stands to become the second- or third-ranked member of Benny Gantz’s center-left party Resilience to Israel is hardly a campaigner for right-wing organizations.
In response to BtS testimonies before the Golstein commission regarding the 2008-9 Gaza War, then Judge Advocate Avichai Mandelblit, who just gave the group the green light in his role as AG, said that the BtS decision to collect testimonies anonymously raised the feeling that it is not genuinely interested in the verification of its claims.
After the 2014 Gaza War, the IDF Spokesperson claimed that BtS did not provide information that would enable military investigators to examine their testimonies.
Amos Harel, the military commentator for Haaretz, wrote in 2009 that BtS had a clear political agenda, which is no longer covered by the title “human rights organization.”
“Anyone who describes on his website ‘the corruption that has spread in the military system’ because of the military’s occupation of the ‘territories’ cannot be considered a neutral observer,” Harel wrote. He, too, suggested that the vague descriptions of the circumstances of incidents reported by BtS made it impossible for the IDF to use them in criminal investigation.
Yedioth Ahronoth journalist Ben-Dror Yemini claimed that BtS included outright false testimonies in their reports, such as a soldier’s description on one of their videos how he had fired a machine-gun at innocent civilians in Hebron “like it was a video game.”