Investigation into "Akeivot – The Occupation Archives"

At the end of April 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu revealed a daring operation undertaken by the Mossad in the heart of Iran. The operation’s main goal was to transfer confidential Iranian documents from Iran into Israel, without the knowledge of the Iranian Government. The exposure of these documents dealt a heavy blow to the Iranians, and was a huge success for Iran’s opponents.  The Ayatollah leadership will presumably need a lot of time to repair the damage that the operation caused to their regime.  For the safety of Israel and the free world, there was no choice but to expose Iran's nuclear plans and other military strategies.

All governments, both East and West, regard their state secrets, chiefly their military and intelligence archives, with a great deal of reverence.  It is clear that revealing these state secrets in an uncontrolled manner can cause tremendous damage to the security forces in that country (for example by exposing sources, supporters, methods, etc.), as well as to strategic and economic processes the government is trying to implement.

Over the past few years, it has become apparent that several European governments are involved in efforts to reveal Israel’s confidential archives. It is unclear what their end goal is, and who exactly in these governments is heading these efforts. These efforts make a covert operation to procure Israeli state secrets unnecessary. These attempts are made without a hint of embarrassment, nor are they met with the expected criticism from those in charge of protecting Israel's secrets. 

Guy Hirschfeld scanning documents in the Central Zionist Archive

​ In 2013, the Swiss and Norwegian embassies in Israel transferred approximately 1,400,000 NIS to a number of radical left-wing activists - members of the following organizations: Ta'ayush, B'Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Yesh Din, Zazim, and others - in order to establish an organization aimed at "researching the archives" in Israel and then "accessing these archives". Those activists founded an organization called "The Occupation Archives" (renamed "Akeivot” – “Traces").

 

Since its inception, this organization has been operating in diverse and sophisticated ways to expose the archives of the IDF, the Shin Bet and the Mossad, while continuing to receive funding from these countries in amounts exceeding 1,000,000 NIS. The organization employees are collecting and duplicating thousands of documents from various state archives every month.  In 2017 alone, "Akeivot" members submitted a request to the security forces to receive more than 2,000 archived files, and many more files deemed too sensitive for exposure by the Chief of Staff, Military Censorship and more. In addition, they maintained close contact with the head of the State Archives, manipulating him to disobey his superiors' commands and expose classified materials. 

These operatives lobby the Archives Council and Knesset committees in order to change the regulations regarding exposure of classified archives, and have attempted to receive security clearance for "Akeivot” members themselves, to enable them to see and photograph classified material.

The relentless activity aimed at disclosing classified documents from Israel's State Archives, with an emphasis on the IDF’s and intelligence agencies' archives, and the extensive funding received by the organization from two European governments, reveals a fundamental problem.

Foreign governments are operating within the State of Israel, contrary to the Israeli public interest, disregarding decisions made by the elected officials and Israeli legal guidelines. This phenomenon requires immediate attention from the Israeli law enforcement agencies as well as from Israeli society.

Akeivot's p[paid employees include: a CEO, researcher, several digitization workers and a cataloguer. The digitization workers go to various state archives on a daily basis and scan documents which interest Akeivot and their foreign funders.  By November 2015, after only one year of work, Akeivot employees managed to scan 20,000 documents from various archives.

After completing the scan, the cataloguer reviews the material and finds material which may interest the bodies behind Akeivot. When they find material that they wish to publish, it undergoes an analysis by the organization’s researcher, and is then distributed on social networks and in the media by other organizations, not directly by Akeivot.

The policy behind Akeivot activity is to publicize alleged "crimes" committed by Israeli governments and Jewish settlements. They therefore focus on the publication of documents which promote the claim that Israel is guilty of international crimes, as well as alleged illegal activity by the State of Israel related to Jewish settlement in the Golan, Judea and Samaria, and Sinai, and the Israeli authorities' dealings with Arabs who are not Israeli citizens (Palestinian Arabs).

Click on the picture to enlarge

​During the course of Ad Kan’s investigation into Akeivot activity, we have discovered that in order to gain access to materials in the Central Zionist Archives, Guy Hirschfeld, an Akeivot employee, presented the purpose of his research as a seminar/final thesis for his MA, despite the fact that he is not a current student in any university/college. He also signed an affidavit committing to follow the archive’s regulations, which require that he obtain written permission from the archive’s management prior to any publication of material copied from the archive, including publishing on the Internet. Our investigations have found no such requests filed by Hirschfeld, yet it seems that Hirschfeld received and publicized highly classified materials.

Akeivot's Close Relationship with the State’s Archivist

According to the Archival Law (1955), the government must appoint a State Archivist to be in charge of preserving the archives of the State’s institution".

In 2011, Dr. Jacob Lazovik was appointed to be the State Archivist.  Over the course of his tenure, the archives underwent a significant digitization process of the archives, with the dilemmas associated with this transition.  A major issue during his tenure was his continuous contact with the members of Akeivot and their various representatives, and his push to increase the exposure of various archives to the public, including classified materials.

As part of the optimization process, the Head Archivist also announced the closure of the visitor’s conference room (due to a lack of manpower). Following this announcement, correspondence was initiated by Leor Yavne, the CEO of Akeivot, with Lazovik. Lior cited the organization's support of the digitization, but strongly opposed denying people the right of physical examination.

As a result of this correspondence along with Akeivot’s published attacks against the Archives (in ‘Haaretz’ newspaper, in ‘Sicha Mekomit’, and more), a meeting between Akeivot employees and the Archives was held on March 21st, 2016.  In the meeting, Lazovik promised, "in the coming months, catalogs are expected to be uploaded to the internet, covering most of the archived materials, including materials which have not yet been reviewed."​

​ According to Noam Hoffstedter, a researcher at Akeivot, Dr. Lazovik admitted that in the past documents pertaining to security and other sensitive issues were published on the site without the Censorship’s approval, and in retrospect the Archives' staff recognize this as a violation of Israeli law.

Yaakov Lozowick: More or less. Regarding the topic of archive restriction- "Akevot" organization insisted on a certain interpretation of this rule. As a result of their insistence we reviewed our policy and we accepted their interpretation. This is great. We should continue the dialogue between citizens and ourselves.   

On September 4th, 2017, the Association for Civil Rights contacted the State Archives on behalf of Akeivot, demanding that they speed up the exposure process and change the guidelines of the State Archives and its material publishing procedures. They even demanded the cancellation of attorney Nizri's directive, that the approval of exposures be given exclusively by the depositors, implicitly threatening that the Association intends to take legal proceedings against the State Archives.

From the association's letter, it is clear that Akeivot sought to receive documents from the IDF’s Archives and the various Security Forces in 2017, namely 1,875 Military Government Archives regarding the Negev from 1948-1968 and 172 Military Government Archives regarding Jaffa from 1948-1949. They also sought to receive other materials still under the restriction period from the Chief of Staff, the Military Censorship, the Civil Administration and other elements of the security forces, but these requests were denied for security reasons.​

Today, Lazovik admits that Akeivot demands led to a change of policy.  He stated: “On the issue of archival limitation periods, Akeivot’s insistence on their interpretation of the regulations led us to reconsider our understanding, and we ended up accepting theirs. And this is a good thing. There is a need for increased dialogue between the citizens and the clerical workers.”

​In July 2017, Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri instructed the State Archivist (Lazovik) not to publish any more documents without the permission of the archiving body, as required by law. This directive came as a result of a similar directive that the State Archives received from the prime minister's legal adviser over a year earlier, with which  refused to comply.

​ At the Knesset Science and Technology Committee in October 2017, the issue of "Leaked Information from the State Archives" was discussed. The committee was led by MK Makleb, with Lazovik, Gadi Algazi, and various other MKs participating.  In the meeting, Guy Lieberman from Yedioth Ahronoth news agency said the following:

"About two months ago, the first article was published regarding the State Archives, which revealed that the archives currently open on the internet pose significant security and privacy breaches. Materials that should not be open to the public are uploaded. I'm talking about security materials; medical documents that violate clear medical confidentiality; adoption cases; contracts from institutions whose existence are not public knowledge; an entire folder with names of people who wanted to have a late circumcision and immigrate to the country from the USSR, and all their personal information is there. It's a little strange because as a journalist I'm in favor of increased exposure, but suddenly I discovered something and I said to myself, this shouldn’t be public, these things are problematic. And then you think about it and you understand that either they were uploaded to the website by accident, or there was some clear negligence. How do I know that we’re dealing with negligence? Because in the documents’ title a person’s name is blacked out, but two lines later it says his name. This is clear negligence.”

Supreme Archives Board

According to Article 3 of the Archives Law, the Government of Israel must establish a Supreme Archives Council, consisting of representatives from various archives and academic institutions.  Some of the roles of this council include the oversight of the Archives' activities and discussing issues that arise on a regular basis.

At the time that Akeivot was founded, Prof. Gadi Algazi joined the Supreme Archives Council and began working from there to promote an agenda very similar to the agenda set by Akeivot, in full coordination with the State Archivist.

Since the 1980’s Elgazi has been known as a radical leftist, indeed as well as thought.  He has been involved in physical confrontations with Israeli security forces many times, he has been arrested several times and was even jailed for insubordination. Elgazi is one of the founders of  the anti-Israel organizations, ‘Ta'ayush’ and ‘Tarbut’, and he is a member of the left-wing Hadash Party Secretariat.

Algazi often expresses extreme views against the State of Israel and Zionism, such as his libelous statement at the demonstration against Israeli police in Sakhnin, October 2015: "A huge wave of oppression is going on in the West Bank and the Gaza-prison, they are again bombing women and children, within the West Bank, young boys and girls, elders, and high school students are arrested in so-called ‘preventative arrests’, this is a wave of oppression and racism, a black wave is coming upon us, the house is burning ... Those responsible sit in an air-conditioned room in Jerusalem in government and incite. And all those who are injured and killed are the victims of the occupation, the victims of Zionism are the victims of the settlements. The one leading all of this is sitting in Jerusalem, he wasn’t able to carry the Middle East to a dangerous war, though he is trying to ignite a fire at home. Netanyahu, this house does not belong to you… you are the settlers' stooge, and you’re the one who ignited a fire in Al Aqsa. "

Akeivot's Connection to Radical Political Organizations

The founders of "The Occupation Archives – Akeivot", its management and employees, are in fact activists and central workers in well-known radical organizations, which have been operating for years with a clear bias towards the Palestinians and a clear interest in harming the international image of the State of Israel.  Some of them promote legal actions against Israel in the world.

Essentially Thus, Akeivot is actually a subsidiary of the following anti-Israel organizations: 'Ta'ayush', 'Yesh Din', 'B'Tselem', 'The Public Committee Against Torture', 'Breaking the Silence', 'The Fund for Human Rights Defenders', ‘Physicians for Human Rights,’ and more. Each organization sent a representative to establish this subsidiary organization, whose purpose is to expose the State of Israel’s classified archives, which will likely assist an anti-Israel agenda in the international arena.

The diagram below shows the breakdown of Akeivot’s ‘parent organizations’:

Members of the Association:

2010 - 2014: Red Cross spokesman in Israel

(International Committee of the Red Cross)

2014 - present: Managing Director of Physicians for Human Rights - Israel

Chairman: Ran Goldstein,

one of the founders of the association.

One of the founders of the association.

One of the founders of Yesh Din and its legal counsel. Serves as legal counsel for ‘Breaking the Silence’ and for ‘The Human Rights Foundation’.

Member of the Public Council for ‘Social Television’, along with Noam Chomsky, Naomi Hazan (former president of the New Israel Fund), etc.

In 2015, he testified in favor of the Palestinian Authority in a lawsuit against terror victims which took place in the US. He represented those who claimed to own the land in Amona, as well as Soviet spy Marcus Klingberg and IDF insurgents (‘Courage to Refuse’, ‘Yesh Gvul’, etc). In addition, he represented families of ISM operatives and the British photographer James Miller, who were killed during the fighting in the Gaza Strip, and dozens more cases in which he represents Palestinians with questionable backgrounds.

Attorney Michael Sfarad

Attorney Ronnie Pelley

One of the founders of the association.

She works in the ‘Human Rights Unit in the Occupied Territories’ at the ‘Civil Rights Association’. She has previously worked in the Information Department in ‘HaMoked’- Center for the Defense of the Individual, in the Research Department for Yesh Din, and at the offices of Attorney Michael Sfarad.

Muki (Moshe) Dagan

Co-founder and former board member of Yesh Din, a board member of the Human Rights Defense Foundation.

Hadass Ziv

From the NGO founders

Coordinator of public activity  Ethics committee for 'Docters for Human Rights- Israel'. Former CEO.

Attorney Efrat – Bergman Sapir

Member of the Auditing Committee.

Works as the Director of the Legal Department at the ‘Public Committee Against Torture in Israel’ since September 2014. Before that, she worked as a legal advisor on the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation to Israel (ICRC in Israel).

Specialized in law at the Civil Rights Association

Ziv Shtahel

One of the founders of the association.

The director of the research department at Yesh Din, also serves as the chair of the ‘Zazim’ organization, a radical political organization that led a campaign to release a 12-year-old terrorist after she was arrested near the settlement Karmei Tzur, where she intended to carry out an attack against Jews, using a knife she was carrying.

Akeivot Employees

​Lior Yavne

CEO of Akeivot since 2014

From 2001-2003 he worked as the communications manager for B'Tselem

From 2004 to 2013, he worked as director of the ‘Yesh Din’ research department

Guy Hirschfeld

Responsible for digitization for Akeivot. As part of his role, Hirschfeld is responsible for scanning the materials in the various government archives.  He goes to the various archives on a daily basis and scans documents for the organization.

At the same time, Hirschfeld acts as Ta'ayush's coordinator of the Jordan Valley area. He often confronts soldiers and settlers and documents these confrontations. As a result, he was arrested several times by the police.  Legal proceedings were taken against him for these provocations against Israeli soldiers, as well legal proceedings regarding the sale of drugs.

In March 2018, he was arrested together with Eric Asherman for assaulting a bereaved father near Mevo'ot Yeriho in the Jordan Valley.

Financing and Interested Parties

​ Since its inception, and during its first three years of operation, over 95% of the funding for Akeivot came from two foreign governments, Switzerland and Norway.

In light of Akevot’s intensive activity in revealing classified documents from the State Archives, with an emphasis on the archives of the intelligence agencies and the IDF, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the extensive funding received from two European governments (whose interests are unclear) for the stated purpose of “granting access to the archives” (as appears in their financial statements), an absurd situation arose in which foreign states pay Israeli citizens to expose their state's secrets in violation of Israeli law. These foreign governments are, in effect, paying Israelis to go behind the backs of Israeli security and public officials, without letting the Israeli public or elected representatives make informed decisions on their activity or agendas.

On July 24th, 2017, our organization filed a request with the State Archivist Yakov Lazovik, to disclose the suspicious contacts and connections with Akeivot and to act in accordance with the law regarding the disclosure of archival material:

In addition, on July 14th, 2018, we approached Swiss Ambassador to Israel, John Daniel Ruch, and confronted him regarding the outrageous collaboration with the Akeivot organization.

At the end of 2018, we initiated a petition in which we called on the Prime Minister to take immediate action against this absurd situation, which is damaging to Israel's security. The petition reached the Prime Minister, and as a result he spoke with the Swiss Ambassador and demanded that they cease all funding to Akeivot.

​A few of the articles on the subject (click on the article you would like to see):

All of the information, pictures, and documents appear in the full investigative report.

דוח עקבות עמוד ראשון.jpg
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