Gilad Tzweik | 07/05/2017
'Breaking the Silence' spokesman Dean Issacharoff says that during his service he beat up an innocent Palestinian. In response, his subordinates call him a liar. The organization refuses to comment on the matter
Recently, 'Breaking the Silence' spokesman Dean Issacharoff, a former brigade commander in the Nahal Brigade, testified that during his military service he beat up an innocent Palestinian till he bled, in full view of his soldiers. 'Reservists on the Front Line' organization responded with a video in which former fighters who served with Issacharoff ostensibly refute his 'testimony'.
"This is a person who comes and falsely accuses us of things that didn't happen," says Omri Seiner, the former company commander of Issacharoff, in the video. Later in the video, the fighters, some of whom served under Issacharoff, make it clear that the incident he describes "never happened" and call their former brother-in-arms "a liar". 'Reservists on the Front Line' also announced that they have asked the State Attorney's Office to consider investigating the 'Breaking the Silence' spokesperson for the serious acts he attributes to himself.
We contacted 'Breaking the Silence' several times for a response, but as of date of writing, no response has been received.
As we have reported in the past in 'Mida', 'Breaking the Silence' insists that the testimonies publicized by the organization are highly reliable. "The process of verifying our testimonies is very professional," says Ido Ibn-Jaz, a former artillery fighter who serves as the coordinator of 'Breaking the Silence''s educational activities. According to Ibn Jaz, verification of the testimonies in the organization is "meticulous, even geeky, and it is difficult to bring us down. To this day, I know of not one testimony of ours that has been found to be false. The most that has happened has been the uncovering of certain details unknown to the witness. But this happened innocently, a result of lack of knowledge, not out of a desire to lie ".
These statements are inaccurate. First of all, an absolute majority of the "testimonies" given are anonymous, often without context of place or time, making the task of refuting them difficult, if not impossible. Recently, the state asked 'Breaking the Silence' members to reveal the identity of one of the organization's 'witnesses' whose testimony raised suspicions of war crimes, but 'Breaking the Silence' refused to do so, claiming that the exposure might prevent additional soldiers from approaching them.
In cases where it was possible to verify testimonies published by 'Breaking the Silence', as in the case of Issacharof and his former subordinates, they often turned out to be distorted, twisted, devoid of context, manipulative, and according to the Israel TV program 'The Source', often even false .
Three weeks ago, for example, a former fighter in an armored infantry unit requested to refute the testimony that he and his colleagues allegedly blew up the door of a Palestinian family in the belief that there was a wanted (Palestinian combatant) staying there, but turned out to be the wrong address. "I don't remember him being on the team he describes", claims the former fighter with regard to the testimony of the 'Breaking the Silence' activist. "It's just painful, and I'm fed up that someone who was one of us uses the unit for his own personal purpose, to denigrate as much possible, so that his organization 'Breaking the Silence' has yet another imaginary testimony". It should be noted that even if the testimony of the 'Breaking the Silence' activist was true, he did not describe an intentional act against innocents but an operational malfunction, which is a regrettable side effect of the Sisyphean and exhausting battle against Palestinian terrorism.
In the past, a group of fighters approached Avner Gavrihu, a former member of a paratrooper unit and former spokesman for 'Breaking the Silence', claiming that his "testimonies" of crimes he allegedly committed with his unit members did not actually take place. "We have also decided to break the silence", the fighters wrote to Gavrihu, claiming that he accused them of "things that never happened or were completely distorted from the ground up, and divorced from reality."
Gavrihu's fellow combatants contradicted a serious accusation of his, that fighters entered the homes of Palestinians in Hebron who had a satellite dish in order to watch soccer games. A former spokesman for 'Breaking the Silence' also told foreign tourists that he and his friends stood on the roofs of Palestinian houses with "a machine gun that kills within a radius of 50 meters." According to the colleagues in Gavrihu's unit, "The only World Cup that took place when we were in the army was in 2006, "No one went into any house to see a soccer match," they said.
Gavrihu was also forced to confront a combatant who participated in 'Operation Protective Edge' (Summer 2014), claiming that 'Breaking the Silence' distorted reality when they presented a structure from which three Hamas terrorists set out to kill two IDF soldiers as an innocent mosque that the IDF destroyed for no reason. Gavrihu's responded with a vague explanation that the mosque sheltering Hamas combatants preparing to kill IDF soldiers, "is not related to the testimony that was brought, but to reality, and that it is important to discuss."
In other cases, the testimonies given by 'Breaking the Silence' are truly ridiculous. For example, when a former observer described soldiers firing at sheep near the border fence with the Gaza Strip. Of course, there is no reason to encourage indiscriminate shooting of animals, but the observer's testimony clearly indicates that it was reasonable to assume that the person herding the sheep was not an innocent shepherd, but rather a man recruited by Hamas to provide hostile intelligence on the movement of IDF forces in the area - a recognized practice in the Palestinian terrorist organization.
'Breaking the Silence' people are not only unreliable in their testimonies about the period of their service, but also during tours they conduct for tourists and Israeli citizens in Hebron. A participant in one of these tours revealed that a guide from the left-wing organization provided tourists with false 'facts'. For example, the guide told tourists that the murderer Baruch Goldstein is considered a "national hero" among many Israelis, and that Israel prevents Palestinians access to water in order to "force them out of the area."
Finding it difficult to collect testimonies
'Breaking the Silence' receives significant donations from foreign sources (according to the NGO Monitor, the organization has received close to NIS 12 million over the past four years), but it appears that despite the flow of cash, 'Breaking the Silence' has a hard time supplying the anti-Israel goods. A quick search in the 'Testimonies' page on the organization website shows that in the last two and a half years, it has been unable to publish even a single new testimony of immoral acts allegedly committed by IDF soldiers against Palestinians. For example, in the organization's latest report – 'Upper Command: Settler Influence on IDF Activity in the West Bank ' - published last January, the most recent 'testimonies' are from 2014.
Departing 'Breaking the Silence' chairwoman Yuval Novak recently claimed that "we love Israel and hate the occupation". She added that the participants in the organization's overseas conferences "thank us" for the fact that thanks to 'Breaking the Silence', they can tell themselves that "Israel is legitimate, but there is a policy that needs to be changed". Reality, as usual, is the opposite. Hamas, for example, uses the materials of the Israeli leftist organization to cover up its crimes in 'Operation Protective Edge', and the organization's reports are widely and sympathetically cited in the Al-Jazeera network, which is funded by Qatar, one of Hamas's main supporters. There is no great love for Israel there. As we have extensively covered in the past on 'Mida', the far left organization receives generous monetary donations from organizations closely connected to the BDS (boycott) movement and that reject the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.
Perhaps there is some logic in Novak's statement that the organization she heads ostensibly helps Israel. For when an Israeli organization receives millions of dollars from anti-Israeli elements to discredit IDF fighters around the world, and the only product it is capable of delivering is anonymous and detached or easily refuted evidence, there seems to be no better proof that the IDF "is the most moral army in the world".