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Israeli soldiers talk about the occupied territories
September 14, 2016

Q&A About collecting testimonies and (not) collecting classified materials

+ Why are you collecting classified information about the IDF?

• Breaking the Silence does not collect classified information.

• For over 11 years we have interviewed soldiers about their service in the occupied territories, hearing about what military control over a civilian population looks like. We act with responsibility and professionalism, working with legal advisers and the relevant military agents.

• The testimonies we collect are all passed through the Israel Military Censor before publication, in order to prevent any harm to national security. We have engaged in ongoing dialogue with the military censor since our founding, to date.

• National security and data protection are at the top of our priorities. Accordingly, we operate with full responsibility. To date, it appears that we have satisfied the relevant officials of the security services, who are well aware of both the type of information we are dealing with, and the scope of this information.

• The information that was presented in the aforementioned segment, was described as ‘secret’ or ‘classified’ by former security figures, though was in fact approved for publication by the military censor – the body authorized to do so by the State of Israel. This certified body asserted that neither holding this information, nor publishing it, poses any problem whatsoever.

+ That news report claims that you ask irrelevant questions. Why?

• All our researchers are former combat soldiers, who go through a nearly one-year-long intensive professional training period.

• In order to publish solely corroborated, precise testimonies, we undertake intensive, meticulous processes of verification and cross-checking. As any self-respecting researcher knows, asking questions and receiving answers forms the basis of one’s ability to cross-check information, verify details, and establish credibility to ensure that the testifier provides an accurate testimony. Upon the conclusion of interviews, the testimonies go through a strict process of corroboration that is based not only on the details provided to us by the testifier, but also on additional information published in the media or provided to us by the IDF spokesperson.

• Our professional work methods have proven themselves time and time again. Not a single testimony that we have published has been found to be false. Attention to detail and a deep knowledge of the field are the professional foundations of any self-respecting researcher. These values ensure the reliability of the testimonies we publish.

• Over the past months we have uncovered four separate instances of ‘planted’ testifiers, sent to us by the settler organization Ad Kan, in attempt to provide us with false testimonies, or to defame us. None of these testimonies were ever published due to our researchers’ high level of professionalism.

+ Have you ever published any sensitive information?

• No. We have never published, nor will we ever publish, any information that has the potential to compromise national security in any way.

• Each and every Breaking the Silence publication is approved by the military censor, as prescribed by the law. We only publish material once it goes through our meticulous verification process, and receives the military censor’s approval.

• Throughout our 11 years of existence we have never breached any of the military censor’s directions. Not once have any official bodies approached us regarding the problematic nature of any of the materials with which we deal.

• The sole individuals who have disseminated classified materials are the Ad Kan moles, who were planted in attempt to delegitimize and falsely incriminate us. Channel 10 journalist, Raviv Drucker, recently exposed that Ad Kan sent a mole named Roy Peled, who insisted on providing us with classified information. This attempt failed, of course. It is well worth noting that in their attempt to falsely incriminate Breaking the Silence, Ad Kan demonstrated a willingness to risk the publication of the classified information, which fortunately, never transpired, of course.

+ So what’s this whole thing about planted moles trying to delegitimize you?

• It’s part of an orchestrated well-funded campaign of incitement being waged against Israeli human rights organizations and those opposing the occupation – led by several right-wing settler organizations, with the full backing and support of a number of members of Knesset.

• Ad Kan is an arm of the extreme right-wing Samaria Settlers’ Committee.

• Ad Kan moles were recently exposed for attempts to encourage and incriminate Palestinian bus passengers to direct sexually suggestive remarks at female passengers. The women were also revealed to be moles planted by Ad Kan. The fabricated harassments were presented on Channel 2 as if they actually occurred and happened to be caught on camera.

• To date, we have exposed four Ad Kan moles. We caught onto all four of them precisely because of our investigative and corroborative capabilities. Not one of the testimonies they provided to us was publicly released. The moles we exposed – Amir Beit Arie, Haim Parmed, Roy Peled and the member of Knesset, Oren Hazan – hoped we would publish their testimonies so that they could discredit our organization. As previously mentioned: Their attempts all failed, further attesting to our credibility and reliability.

+ Who funds the organizations trying to delegitimize you?

• The extreme right-wing Samaria Settlers’ Committee has been exposed for standing behind Ad Kan.

• The Samaria Settlers’ Committee has supported and encouraged acts of Jewish terrorism (‘Price Tag’ operations), according to a Yedioth Ahronoth investigation. (Read the full story here.)

• The Samaria Settlers’ Committee is also behind the campaign calling for the separation of Israelis and Palestinians on public transportation. As was exposed in the newspaper Haaretz, this is the campaign in which Ad Kan took part, in attempt to fabricate sexual harassment of Palestinians toward Jewish women on buses.

+ Do you plant spies within IDF units?

• No.

• Last we checked, our connections at the induction base expired…

• In all seriousness, covert recordings of private conversations (in this case, between a member of our staff with someone who pretended to be her friend while secretly shadowing us for months) presented out of context, is an operating method often used by Ad Kan.

• The claim that we ‘plant spies’ within IDF units is no more than a pathetic despicable lie.

• In a conversation heard on the hidden camera that was broadcasted in the segment, a current member of Breaking the Silence (a former 22-year-old soldier who served in the operations room in Nablus), is overheard telling someone she thought was a friend about misgivings she had encountered before enlisting in the military, and about discussions she had on the topic. To claim that she was a spy is a complete and absolute distortion of reality.

• This member, like many other members of Breaking the Silence, chose to serve her time in the military in places about which others don’t even want to know. This demanded bravery, courage, and a strong ethical stance. We are proud of her and of the rest of our members, and we have nothing but contempt for Ad Kan’s despicable attempts to smear Breaking the Silence at the expense of its members.

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