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Justice minister's attacks on Breaking the Silence may just backfire

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s latest crusade has led to a Breaking the Silence spokesperson being questioned under caution. But if she’s so concerned about army abuses against Palestinians, why isn’t she ordering an investigation into the string of unlawful killings carried out by soldiers?

Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked next to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, at the ceremony for opening a new year of justice in Tel Aviv, on August 30, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked next to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, at the ceremony for opening a new year of justice in Tel Aviv, on August 30, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

In Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s latest stunt, Breaking the Silence spokesperson Dean Issacharoff has been questioned under caution after he testified on a group tour that he had assaulted a Palestinian during his army service.

There’s no point trying to spin this: that is what members of Breaking the Silence do. They testify in front of the Israeli public — to the extent they are able in the face of policies to silence them — about the daily reality of occupation, and about what happens when soldiers sent to fulfill ambitions of supremacy meet the Palestinians who must pay the price.

I want to dwell for a moment on the reasoning Shaked used in her appeal to the Attorney General on this matter: “Given the great importance I place on preserving the good name of the State of Israel and IDF soldiers, I thought it fitting to request that you look into this incident. If it transpires that the reports are correct, justice must be done immediately.”

The good name of the State of Israel and the army — that’s what’s worthy of preservation. The lives of the millions of defenseless Palestinians under violent occupation are of no interest to the justice minister, which we’ve known for some time. And it’s also no surprise that the minister who demands instant legal action against a left-wing activist is the same one who sought clemency for Elor Azaria, a soldier who shot and killed someone who was dying on the ground.

But perhaps, Madam Justice Minister, alongside your obsessive hounding of the Left, you might consider applying the same moral standards to the dozens of case files against IDF soldiers and officers, some of them very senior, who were involved in killing unarmed Palestinians. These files have been quietly plastered over and closed, far from the public eye. They too do little for the good name of the country and army.

Perhaps you could, for example, order the reopening of the investigation into the shooting and killing of two siblings, Maram Abu Ismail and Salim Taha, by civilian security contractors at Qalandiya checkpoint last year. Or you could demand that the file on Useid and Muhammad Qadus, shot dead by an officer in the army whose good name concerns you so. And you could also look into the killing of Firas Qasqas, who was shot in the back and killed near Ramallah.

Usaid and Muhammed Qadus

Usaid and Muhammed Qadus.

You could call for a serious investigation into IDF General Roni Noma’s involvement in the killing of Abdullah Jarushi, whom a sniper shot and killed as he left his sister’s house in Tulkarem. And perhaps you could take a look at the death of Ibrahim Sarhan who was shot and killed by members of the army’s most elite unit, as he was fleeing after hearing gunshots that had nothing to do with him?

Perhaps you’ll see fit to properly investigate why a soldier fired 29 bullets into the bodies of cousins Saleh and Muhammad Qawarik, farmers who went out to work their land in the morning. Maybe the Israeli public will learn why an IDF colonel ordered the shooting of 17-year-old Ihab Islim, who was standing on the balcony of his home in Nablus talking with relatives.

Saleh and Muhammad Qawarik

Saleh and Muhammad Qawarik.

You may also want to investigate where a soldier disappeared to after shooting taxi driver Zakaria Daragma, a 37-year-old resident of Tubas, in the back in 2006. There’s also the case of Yasser a-Tmeizi, who was arrested for not carrying an identity card, bound and detained at a military base, and later shot dead while still in custody.

These are just a few solitary incidents, Madam Justice Minister. There are stacks more like them. You could, for example, order the reopening of the investigation into Uzi Dayan who proudly testified about how he covered up the killing of five innocent Palestinians.

If, after all of this, you decide to continue with this farce, you may find yourself being being asked to bring hundreds of other silence breakers to trial along with Issacharoff. You will be helping to bring their voice into every home in Israel, from the witness stand in court. And until then, the brave members of Breaking the Silence will continue to testify.

This post was originally published in Hebrew on Local Call. 

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    1. Firentis

      A former soldier stands and admits to abusing Palestinians. Seems like it should be investigated, or do leftists have some special immunity to criminal penalties for crimes committed?

      It is also possible that the man is lying for political or financial reasons. He will have a chance to testify about all the details in front of the proper authorities and if necessary be punished for his actions.

      This article is a great example of hypocrisy. It accuses numerous soldiers of abuses but when it comes to actually charging a soldier that admits in public to abusing Palestinians suddenly it is a farce to investigate and prosecute. You people are a joke.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      The transparent singling out and persecution of Dean Issacharoff by this cold, Judeo-fascist, “Justice” Minister is a sign of the current far-gone state of the Israeli state and society. Who actually thinks that Shaked is worried about the Palestinian who was beaten? Who actually thinks Shaked is worried about the morality and “purity” of the army? Who actually thinks Shaked ever tried to prosecute or would ever try to prosecute a non-leftist soldier for equivalent or worse crimes (unless it was caught on tape like Azaria and she had no other choice)? This is pure political persecution. I hope it blows up into an ever-expanding scandal where hundreds of former soldiers step up and say “prosecute me too, Shaked, I did this….” I hope this move by this nasty minister creates great publicity for Breaking the Silence. This incident has great potential and Breaking the Silence should capitalize on it. It could be a brilliant opportunity. Seize the day.
      (And Firentis, your deliberate ignoring of the point Orly Noy makes could not be more transparent.)

      Reply to Comment
    3. Firentis

      Yeah. Investigating someone who *admitted* to abusing Palestinians is now apparently “harassment”. If Israel doesn’t investigate abuses it is accused of tolerating abuse. If it does investigate a person who, again, *admitted* to abusing Palestinians it is “harassment”. And this in defense of an employee of a foreign-sponsored organization that INSISTS that Israel must punish those guilty of abuses towards the Palestinians. And here, it is getting exactly what it wants, an Israeli government taking allegations of abuse seriously, something that this organization insists it doesn’t do, and the response? “Harassment”. Seriously? Such blatant hypocrisy is breathtaking. You people should be ashamed of your behavior and instead be praising Ayelet Shaked for taking allegations of abuse seriously. Isn’t this exactly how you want the Israeli government to act? To take allegations of abuse seriously? Or was all this talk about human rights violations just a transparent ploy to demonize Israel? Or is the argument then that a leftist is allowed to beat Palestinians and get away with it?

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Shaked’s response to Issacharoff, and your response here about Shaked’s response to Issacharoff exemplify the dishonesty of right wing Israel. Like these examples, it’s usually a sneaky ignoring of or sidestepping or concealment of the truth. (Although as sneakiness goes, this is so transparent and outrageous as to be really lame and this is why this could backfire in a big way.) Shaked knows she’s not being honest and is using a pretext to selectively apply the law in order to politically persecute. You know you’re doing the same. Neither of you will admit it. Both of you know I know what you’re doing and you don’t care.

        Because it’s permitted to lie for greater Israel. The whole “enterprise” is organized crime, and Shaked resembles a mafia don more than a justice minister in a state with integrity. If you don’t like that analogy, there are others. She resembles a justice minister in a state like Putin’s Russia. If Issacharoff continues to be persecuted like this Israel will have dropped all pretense of being a better country than that.

        I find it funny in a perverse way that right wing Israelis, the champions of complaining that “we are being unfairly singled out,” brazenly deny that Dean Issacharoff is being unfairly singled out. Wow.

        Reply to Comment
        • Firentis

          Hypocrites. Seriously. That is all you are. The entire argument against the investigation into a man admitting to abusing Palestinians consists of whataboutery. The whole article above and all like it are giant examples of hey look over there and leave “our” guy alone. All he did was be recorded admitting to abusing Palestinians. How dare you “persecute” him? Apparently leftists really are allowed to get away with anything.

          One wonders if he had admitted to killing a Palestinian or raping a Palestinian woman would all of you hypocrites be here defending him?

          And no, this isn’t going to backfire for the very simple reason that investigating a man that admits to abusing Palestinians is the right thing to do regardless of his current political views.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            If Issacharoff had admitted to killing a Palestinian during operations the way lots of army troops have, that is, out of an abundance of carelessness, trigger-happiness and to shut down protests (practices that start at the highest levels with the commanding officers)–and that soldiers never ever display towards Jews–I would be defending him. If he shot and killed a Palestinian in an anomalous way I would not be defending him. But that’s the whole point, Issacharoff’s actions were not anomalous. They were and are SOP, standard tactics, routine practice.
            Since Israeli occupation army soldiers have never been accused of raping Palestinians in any widespread, routine, or tactical way, I would not be defending him obviously if he admitted to rape. Issacharoff didn’t rape anybody so you have no point. Your charge of hypocrisy is completely hollow.

            Reply to Comment
      • john

        guess you missed this paragraph, “There are stacks more like them. You could, for example, order the reopening of the investigation into Uzi Dayan who proudly testified about how he covered up the killing of five innocent Palestinians.”‘such blatant hypocrisy is breathtaking’.

        Reply to Comment
        • Firentis

          Excellent. Then you should be celebrating that the case is being looked into. Here is everyone’s chance to get justice for the abuse of a Palestinian.

          Reply to Comment
      • Paranam Kid

        “….and instead be praising Ayelet Shaked for taking allegations of abuse seriously.”
        The only allegations this “government”, and this monster in particular, takes seriously is when it involves Jews, NOT when Palestinians are concerned.
        What’s more, this is the same monster who called Palestinian babies “snakes”, and who called for genocide of the Palestinians because they are israel’s enemy.
        Shaked deserves the very illegal, extrajudicial treatment she allows to be meted out to Palestinians.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Paranam Kid

      Orly, a great article, so spot on. Unfortunately, the intense hatred that Shaked has & fosters in israeli society will prevent her from paying any attention to your logics. Let’s hope that the brave people of Breaking the Silence will have the courage to continue speaking up.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Ben

      Germany: Israel’s Treatment of NGOs With Foreign Funding Is Like Russia and China
      Israel asks for clarifications after unprecedented criticism by Germany in additional escalation of tensions between Jerusalem and Berlin

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Germany Won’t Backtrack From Unprecedented Criticism of Israel’s Treatment of Foreign-funded NGOs
        German Foreign Ministry spokesperson says Germany grouped Israel together with China and Russia because all three recently passed laws against transferring foreign government funds to civil society organizations

        Reply to Comment
        • Firentis

          It is about time to stop foreign interference in Israeli domestic affairs by preventing foreign governments from sponsoring Israeli political NGOs.

          The Germans are unhappy that their interference in Israeli domestic affairs will be curtailed? Natural, predictable and inconsequential.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            To begin with, it’s not “domestic.” We’ve been over this. That dishonesty aside, Vlad Putin and Xi Jinping certainly agree with you. That, um, was Germany’s point. (And reflects its exasperation with its spoiled, entitled child.) Nice company you keep. Bennett and Shaked are what Ze’ev Sternhell say they are:

            Interviewer: Is there anyone in Israeli politics who scares you?
            Sternhell: “The group led by [Naftali] Bennett and [Uri] Ariel scares me – I think they are extremely dangerous. I think that [Avigdor] Lieberman is a little less dangerous, because he lacks religious fervor. But they and the right-wing branch of Likud are truly dangerous people, because they really don’t understand what democracy is, what human rights are, and they truly and deeply hate the Arabs in a way that doesn’t allow for coexistence here. You ask whether there are similarities between Marine Le Pen in France and Bennett – of course there are. In some ways she is a dangerous left-winger compared to him. If Netanyahu really wants to enter the history books, he needs to dismantle the partnership with the right, split Likud and establish a centrist government with the support of the left, and not be ashamed to rely on the Arabs’ votes….”

            Reply to Comment