Deputy prosecutor Shai Nitzan
Deputy prosecutor Shai Nitzan Israel news photo: Flash 90

Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan has informed MK Uri Ariel that the state does not intend to press charges in the case of an extremist organization that called on Israelis to evade IDF service during the three-week Cast Lead counterterror offensive in Gaza. Ariel (Ichud Leumi – NU) had called to charge the group with incitement and sedition.

The incident in question took place more than six months ago, as IDF soldiers fought Hamas in Gaza. The “Yesh Gvul” organization ran an ad campaign during the counterterror offensive implicitly calling on soldiers to refuse to take part in the operation, using the slogan, “Soldier, Captain, Pilot – Refuse to take part in war crimes.”

The campaign was published, among other places, in the Hebrew-language daily Haaretz.

In his complaint to the state prosecution, Ariel charged that the Yesh Gvul campaign would have constituted defamation of IDF soldiers and incitement under any circumstances, due to the subtext accusing the IDF of war crimes. The campaign was particularly severe due to its implicit call to avoid service at a time of war, he said.

It could even be seen as expressing support for terrorism, Ariel added, as the practical effect, were the campaign to succeed, would be to prevent Israel from taking effective action against Hamas.

Nitzan said there was no room to press charges over the incident, as the words used in the campaign did not explicitly call to dodge the draft, and “it would be very difficult to base a criminal case on subtext.”

In response, Ariel accused the State Prosecution of demonstrating apathy to leftist groups that violate laws against incitement and slander. He named Machsom Watch, Yesh Gvul, Peace Now, and Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika) as examples of groups that get away with such crimes.

"Before we complain about the discriminatory and distorted Goldstone report, or about blood libels against IDF soldiers, and bring complaints to the United Nations, we should examine how our own state prosecution reacts to the exact same types of slander,” he said.