Breaking the Silence lied about IDF crimes in Operation Protective Edge, says NGO

“Breaking the Silence cut and edited my testimony and took the parts they found relevant,” one soldier said.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A pro-Zionist NGO published a comprehensive report on Tuesday documenting a smear campaign run by Breaking the Silence against IDF soldiers following 2014’s Operation Protective Edge against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Ad Kan (Hebrew for “Up to Here”), an activist organization known for exposing the anti-Israel activities of far-left groups in the country, examined a booklet of 111 testimonies by anonymous IDF soldiers published by Breaking the Silence that was widely covered in the international media. It accused soldiers of war crimes such as the intentional shooting of innocent civilians and burying an old Arab man while he was still alive, as well as less serious incidents such as looting and damaging property without operational purpose.

The organization followed up on 11 cases where the facts concerning specific incidents could be cross-checked and found that the extremist group had either published lies, twisted the soldiers’ words, or let contradictory testimonies stand without question.

One tank gunner attested that he and his crew unnecessarily fired, on their own initiative, at innocents “like in a computer game,” shelled civilian buildings in a memorial barrage for a fallen comrade, and ran over cars unnecessarily. When hauled in for questioning by the military police, he said that most of what was written had not actually occurred, and some could not have happened due to how the combat system worked.

He also admitted that as the gunner, he could only see a small part of what was happening at any given moment and that he did not know the intelligence information behind his commanders’ firing orders.

“Breaking the Silence cut and edited my testimony and took the parts they found relevant,” he said.

The description of the alleged buried-alive incident was malicious in two ways. First, five different versions of the same event were published in a way that made it seem as if such a crime happened more than once. Second, it was a lie. The IDF investigators found that the Arab had approached a unit in a suspicious manner, and the soldiers followed proper procedure to the letter. The soldiers warned him and shot in the air before shooting him in the legs. After being wounded, the man behaved in a way that made them think he was trying to detonate an explosive device on his body.

Even though in such cases the suspect should not be approached without protective gear, an unshielded officer risked his life to search him for booby-traps so that he could be treated for his wounds. The Arab didn’t survive, however, and the men covered him in sand as a mark of respect for the dead.

The Ad Kan report revealed that the entire event had been filmed by one soldier’s helmet-mounted camera, which proved that Breaking the Silence did not tell the truth.

Moreover, the IDF conducted a thorough examination of these, as well as all other, alleged war crimes during the campaign and found its soldiers innocent of wrongdoing and, in some cases, even deserving of commendation.

These false testimonies gave Israel a black eye half a decade ago but the serious damage may be yet to come, as it is possible that the International Criminal Court’s recent decision to investigate Israel for war crimes allegedly committed in the 2014 operation was based at least in part on this booklet’s contents.

The report noted that following publication of the pamphlet, various European countries upped their donations to the group, whose budget almost doubled as a result.