Former heads of Israeli security services back whistle blower group
Breaking the Silence
Four former heads of Israel's security services have issued public statements supporting Breaking the Silence, a group dedicated to exposing the conduct of Israeli soldiers in Palestinian inhabited territory, arguing that the group strengthens Israel's moral posture.
"In the difficult circumstances imposed on the soldiers, they must battle every day to maintain a high moral standard. Breaking the Silence protects Israeli soldiers placed in impossible situations by the politicians who deserted them," wrote former Navy and Shin Bet commander Ami Ayalon and former Northern District police chief Alik Ron in an ad they took out in the daily Haaretz.
"As one who served as a fighter and commander in the Israel Defense Forces, and as a citizen who believes that the IDF is only a moral army as long as those serving in it recount what they saw, I am breaking the silence," Ayalon added.
Over the past weekend, the former head of the fabled Sayeret Matkal special ops commando, Maj. Gen. Amiran Levin, issued a similar statement.
The statements of support are the latest in a tense and emotional debate raging during the past two weeks over the organization's activities.
Read more: Most Israelis don’t hear a silence
Established over ten years ago by soldiers just ending their military service, the non-governmental organization set out to make Israelis pay attention to what the group regards as wrongdoing and immoral acts performed by soldiers serving in the West Bank. The NGO’s mission was controversial from the start, and was labelled by Israel's former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as "terror supporters."
Former Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin posted on his Facebook page that "one doesn’t have to love them, but they are a very important part of every democratic regime and an important part of its strength."
Last week Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that "if Breaking the Silence were really worried about our morality the way we are, they would act directly vis-a-vis the army and not blacken the name of our soldiers abroad. The more time that goes by, the more this organization is shown to be operating from malicious motives, and we will fight to our utmost against such phenomena."
Education Minister Naftali Bennett directed that schools bar "organizations that incite against Israel Defense Forces soldiers, such as Breaking the Silence."
"Our children are sent to school to educate them toward mutual responsibility, and not to insult IDF soldiers. The activities of Breaking the Silence have slandered Israel abroad, and they have made it their goal to hurt their brothers who defend us," he added.
Breaking the Silence gathered over 60 anonymous testimonials of troops who fought last year in Gaza, which claimed the Israeli military changed its fighting tactics during last the 50-day conflict with Hamas, electing to lessen the risk to soldiers to the detriment of Palestinian civilian lives.
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Those former soldiers who feel the need to "rat" on the army should have the courage to make their identities know to the public. They rightly fear that no one in his right mind would ever hire them. As a former soldier I now that certain information should remain confidential however painful it might have been at the time the incidents occurred. The fact that former heads of security agencies do not know this indicates that they were unsuitable for the positions that they held.