Moshe Yaalon
Moshe Yaalon Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon partially backtracked Thursday on a statement he made Monday, according to which ultra-leftist group Breaking the Silence is guilty of treason.

The original statement was made following the airing of hidden camera footage in a television exposé, which showed the group extracting sensitive military information from reservist soldiers.

On Monday, Ya’alon said that if Breaking the Silence has passed on the information it extracted to external elements, it has committed treachery, and that even if they are “only keeping it for themselves,” it's “still treason.”

In an interview with Army Radio Thursday, Ya’alon was pressured by interviewers on whether holding on to classified information without passing it on indeed constitutes treason. He backpedaled slightly from his original statement and said that such action would constitute "a security offense." The interviewers noted that Breaking the Silence claims the questions about sensitive security matters were their way of making sure that the soldiers they were interviewing were not impostors.

The initial inquiry indicates that Breaking the Silence was collecting information “without permission and without authority,” he stated. “Much of their information was deleted by the Military Censorship. Of course, we need to also check the soldiers who passed on these testimonies. All this subject has to be looked into.”

The footage on the Channel 2 television report was collected by nationalist group Ad Kan, which infiltrated Breaking the Silence over a three-year period. Breaking the Silence purports to be concerned with the moral standards of the IDF as "an occupying army."