Breaking the Silence Investigation

‘Breaking the Silence’ was founded in 2004 by a group of discharged IDF soldiers that decided to publicize their concerns to Israeli society and the world’s attention concerning the “brutality of the occupation” in which they took a part of during their military service.

​The organization's publications are based on testimonies given over by soldiers during mandatory, career, and reserve duty regarding their service and their units actions. According to the organization, so far they have received testimonies from 1200 male and female soldiers from dozens of various units, including clandestine commando units such as Sayeret Matkal, Shayetet 13, Shaldag, Brigade Reconnaissance Units, and top-secret Intelligence Units.

 

While giving over their testimony, the witnesses are investigated extensively regarding their military training, the distribution of forces, rules, and regulations, methods, operational plans of action, classified military equipment, special procedures, and operations they took a part in during their military service.

Contrary to what one may imagine, the witnesses are also asked about military information that has no connection to events relating to the military control in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, even though only this information is considered by the organization an occupation that warrants the “revelation of the truths concerning the brutality of the occupation”. In effect, the organization is in control of extensive confidential military intelligence, which is secured according to its activists on servers located outside of Israel.

 

In addition to collecting testimony from conscripted and discharged IDF soldiers, it seems as though the organization has no qualms with sending its activists to serve in specific military units to receive future testimony, and perhaps even more than that. This is evident from the personal testimony given over by Frima Bubis (who calls herself ‘Merphie’), an activist in ‘Breaking the Silence’.

The organization maintains very close ties with foreign governments, and receives funding from foreign governments and organizations, including Palestinian, while the group signed contracts with at least part of the European governments and various government organizations, stating that the group will collect information regarding the IDF’s activity in exchange for funding from these organizations. In addition, the organization has a working relationship with Palestinian organizations, one of them (PSCC) coordinates the violent Palestinian protests against the IDF, taking place on a weekly basis in various locations throughout Judea and Samaria.

These facts raise the concern and suspicion that classified military intelligence may be transferred from ‘Breaking the Silence’ to other entities outside the state of Israel, friend or foe.

 Breaking the Silence – Their Methods

 Gathering Classified Intelligence from IDF Soldiers

 

Over the past few years ‘Ad Kan’ has sent several discharged soldiers to give over testimony to ‘Breaking the Silence’.

 

By analyzing the way in which the questions were asked, the information the soldiers were being asked to give, and its relevance to ‘Breaking the Silence’s stated goals, there is a concern that the information gathered is not aimed solely at checking the attitude of IDF soldiers to the Palestinian population, but perhaps for something else.

Process of giving over the Testimony

The organization's investigators find potential witnesses which take part in the group’s tours, through inquiries from soldiers at the information booths, in parlor meetings, or in lectures given over by the organization. According to the group’s activists, they entice discharged soldiers to testify, even if the soldiers believe they didn’t encounter any unusual cases or misconduct which requires testimony.

After making first contact and an initial clarification of the witness's military service, a meeting between the investigators and the prospective witness is coordinated at the organization's offices or in a neutral location. The testimony is usually collected anonymously and is recorded in two parts. The first part contains the date, the location where the testimony was given, the witness's name and the name of the unit they served in, and the second recording contains the testimony itself.

After the testimony is given over, the second recording is sent to a third party to be transcribed.

Once the testimony has been transcribed, the relevant employees in the organization edit it so that it contains only the sections that the organization wants to publish, and only those sections are sent to the military censor for approval before publication.

The rest of the material, which includes classified information, is stored on the organization's computers. According to the organization's employees, the material is kept on the same secure servers where the information from Wikileaks was stored.

The Type of Information Collected in the Testimonies

From an analysis of the testimonies collected by activists from ‘Ad Kan’, it is apparent that the soldiers are questioned on a wide variety of topics regarding the IDF’s actions in various sectors, regarding the IDF’s operational procedures, the dispersion, and locations of the forces,  operational practices, classified technological assets, weapons systems, strategies, the different units purposes and the magnitude of the forces. This, in clear contrast to what would be expected and to the organization's stated goal, which is supposed to collect testimonies of misconduct towards a Palestinian population.

To avoid arousing suspicion by those testifying, the interviewers explain the need for cross-checking to verify the testimony, or with various other excuses, just as was the case when one of the ‘Ad Kan’ investigators gave over testimony to Ron Zeidel, head of the Evidence Collection Department.

… “I don’t know if they explained this to you. I don’t know, but part of the things that we ask are like, is for our general knowledge, um.. meaning that, um… like you know for our professional knowledge, and so that um… these are things that sometimes have um…. They have a significance even though it’s hard to see it. Like when you look at one specific case, but when you look at like several testimonies from soldiers, then you begin to see things. And because of that um… there may be questions that don’t seem relevant to you so if it like seems a bit strange to you why I’m asking about certain things then it just means, um…. Then we will explain it to you"

Summary Ofer Hadad’s article as it was broadcasted on Channel 2 news.

The article that was broadcasted on Channel 2 News was meant to be a part of a series of articles in the television program ‘Uvda’. While preparing the segment, the reporters from ‘Uvda’ presented the content to activists from ‘Breaking the Silence’ in order to get a response of the troubling evidence from our undercover findings. The organization's leader's shock was profound. The leaders of ‘Breaking the Silence’ were in a state of shock after watching the evidence and understanding that a whole TV article was going to be broadcasted about them. In an attempt to counter the article, they put out a ‘notice’ claiming that they discovered a mole from “Ad Kan’ in the organization. This pathetic and ridiculous claim, of course, does not stand the test of reality, seeing as the journalists from ‘Uvda’ showed them the materials while cooperating with us. Furthermore, our moles were so deep in the organization that they were even leading tours for ‘Breaking the Silence’ in Hebron without ever being discovered.

Eventually, of course, the article was published, causing a public outcry, which dozens of Knesset and media members joined, to strongly condemn the conduct of ‘Breaking the Silence’. Since the broadcast of that segment, ‘Breaking the Silence’ shifted most of their efforts to discredit Israel in the International arena because they realized that the people of Israel understood that their actions were not aimed at assisting ‘human rights’ rather altering the face of the country from being a Jewish and democratic state.

A few more disturbing questions from ‘Breaking the Silence’

 Inserting an activist from the organization into a sensitive IDF unit to gather testimonies

 

In addition to collecting testimony from conscripted and discharged IDF soldiers, it seems as though the organization has no qualms with sending its activists to serve in specific military units to receive future testimony, and perhaps even more than that. This is evident from the personal testimony given over by Frima Bubis (who calls herself ‘Merphie’),  an activist in ‘Breaking the Silence’.

In addition to collecting testimony from conscripted and discharged IDF soldiers, it seems as though the organization has no qualms with sending its activists to serve in specific military units to receive future testimony, and perhaps even more than that. This is evident from the personal testimony given over by Frima Bubis (who calls herself ‘Merphie’),  an activist in ‘Breaking the Silence’.

During one of the organization’s activities in Susya (in the southern region of Mount Hebron) on July 24th 2015, Murphy stated that she knew of the organization before her enlistment, and Michael Mankin (one of the founders of the organization and the CEO of the organization between 2006-2011), with whom she consulted in regards to her military service, told her to serve in the Civil Administration Unit to bring back testimony after finishing her service.

Who are the Soldiers that Give Testimonies

Testimonies that are publicized by ‘Breaking the Silence’ are gathered by the organization from conscripted, career and reserves soldiers. According to the testimony database from the organization’s website, they even collect testimonies from soldiers serving in top-secret units. In the list, you can find various Intelligence Units, Sayeret Matkal, Shayetet 13, Shaldag, Special Artillery Units and more.

On December 4th, 2015, Nadav Weiman, the organization’s volunteer coordinator stated that the organization has testimonies from Sayeret Matkal, Shayetet 13, and Shaldag, and he claimed that the testimony given over from the soldier in Shaldag is one of the most significant pieces of evidence that the organization has in its possession.

In addition, Avichai Stoller, a central activist in the organization, claims that conscripted soldiers and government workers are interviewed by ‘Breaking the Silence’, in violation of the law.

 

A summary of the Articles on the Subject (Hebrew)

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Breaking the Silence Funds Ta'ayush’s Activity'

Ta’ayush’s role is to harass IDF soldiers in Judea and Samaria. The activists organize protests, and film and harass IDF soldiers who are trying to do their work.  In the investigation we exposed about the organization, Ezra Nawi was caught handing over Arab land sellers to the Palestinian Authority so that they could be tortured and killed. For the first time, we uncovered the absurd connection between ‘Breaking the Silence’ and Ta’ayush, an organization whose role is to harm IDF soldiers.

 

‘Breaking the Silence’ Investigation – Alon Liel

This meeting took place at the height of the public campaign against ‘Breaking the Silence’. The activists invited the former Israeli Director-General of Foreign Affairs, Alon Liel, to help them deal with the criticism against them. Liel explained to them why it’s crucial that they focus on propaganda against the state of Israel abroad, what lessons could be learned from the boycott of South Africa during the apartheid era and how he was able to prevent the appointment of Dani Dayan as an ambassador to Brazil.

A summary of the Articles on the Subject (Hebrew)

Additional discoveries and investigations into the lies spread by ‘Breaking the Silence’

“The settlers are poisoning the wells”

Stabbing a Soldier is not an act of Terrorism

The volunteer coordinator at ‘Breaking the Silence’ describes how the organization provides information about the IDF to diplomats and foreign entities.

 
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