Eighteen Israeli peace and human rights organizations have issued a joint statement in which they express their solidarity with the the NGO “Breaking the Silence” after the organization’s spokesperson was interrogated by police last week. The signatories included Amnesty Israel, B’Tselem, Combatants for Peace, Standing Together and Peace Now. “We stand with our friends in Breaking the Silence and will not be silent until the occupation ends. The [police] investigation is not meant to achieve justice but rather to intimidate the critics of the occupation from expressing their opinion,” the statement read.
A few weeks ago, far-right Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called on Israel’s attorney general to investigate claims made by Dean Issacharoff, the spokesperson of the anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence, about an incident during his army service in which, by his own admission, he beat up a Palestinian detainee.
Two weeks later, the investigation was launched. The State Prosecutor’s Office denied any connection between Shaked’s call and the decision to launch an investigation. Shaked has no legal standing to ask for an investigation. While the function of justice minister entails some administrative control of Israel’s legal apparatus, it has no authority in matters relating to actual investigations or prosecution. Nevertheless, Shaked used her position to press for an investigation of a veterans’ anti-occupation group that she and her party, HaBayit HaYehudi (the Jewish Home), along with much of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, routinely describe as traitors who must be silenced.
According to Amos Harel, Haaretz correspondent for security affairs, “the state prosecutor’s decision to summon the spokesman for the anti-occupation veterans’ group Breaking the Silence for questioning – after 1st Lieutenant (reserves) Dean Issacharoff admitted on video that he beat a Palestinian during his army service in Hebron – is a case of selective enforcement. Calling Issacharoff in for questioning does not look like an attempt to get at the truth. It appears to be an effort to deter those who speak about the harm caused by the occupation, and to ensure that those who succeed him won’t ever dare speak out.”