Shmuel Meidad
Shmuel Meidad Public Relations

Following the recent verbal sparring between the radically anti-Israel “B’Tselem” group and the IDF Spokesperson, head of the Honenu legal organization Shmuel Meidad stressed that a working relationship nevertheless exists between the IDF and the organization which must be eradicated.

A Facebook spat unfolded this week after B’Tselem commented on a video clip that one of its members made three months ago, as it promoted it's new film disparaging soldiers debuting this week. In that clip, the B’Tselem member harasses a group of soldiers, paying no attention to their calls to leave the premises. The B’Tselem member is clearly not intimidated by the weapons the soldiers are holding, knowing that IDF protocol for the scenario at hand prohibits the soldiers from firing the weapons.

B’Tselem blasted the soldiers this week on Facebook, sarcastically calling them “heroes” for “loading their rifles against civilians.”

In response, IDF spokesperson Moti Almoz fired back in his own Facebook post: “We don’t always respond to these types of attacks [so as not to provide you with] free publicity,” he said, but went on to slam B’Tselem for provoking standoffs with soldiers. “There is a fundamental difference between filming an event as it is happening and creating an event after arriving at the scene,” he said. “You generally choose the latter option.”

“You continue to make videos as if in the name of freedom of expression, despite the fact that the expression is cut off from reality - and we will continue to protect civilians of the state of Israel and ensure peace for its residents,” he said.

B’Tselem charged in response: “Unfortunately the spokesman's post emphasizes yet again that the goal of the state is to advance the theft of lands and the illegal settlement project, while trampling human rights of Palestinians by means of the army.”

Despite the show of hostilities between the IDF and the group, Meidad pointed out that a working relationship in fact exists between the two.

“Within the framework of Honenu’s legal assistance to IDF soldiers, who unfortunately are often brought to trial for their operational activity by the pressure and encouragement of B’Tselem and those similar to them, a worrying document has been made known to us,” Meidad said.

He pointed to a document revealed during the trial of Ben Deri, a Border Police officer accused of manslaughter in the death of an Arab rioter during “Nakba Day” riots in 2014, in which former military prosecutor of operational matters Ronen Hirsch wrote to B’Tselem and noted that the IDF and B’Tselem maintain a “constant” and “fruitful dialogue” for the “common interest of effective operational enforcement of complaints relating to the activity of IDF soldiers.”

“In the document, the prosecutor writes to the Chairman of B’Tselem that, over the years, there has been a deepening of the fruitful dialogue with B’Tselem and a consolidation of joint protocols for action, and I ask General Almoz: Is B’Tselem our slanderer or a partner for fruitful activity with the IDF? The answer is clear.”

“I am happy to see that, now, the IDF also understands this,” Meidad said, but went on to emphasize that ending treatment of B’Tselem as a working partner needed to originate from the highest levels of the defense establishment. “I call on the Defense Minister, Chief of Staff, and all the relevant officials to instruct an immediate end to cooperation with all organizations that pursue IDF soldiers. It cannot be that the IDF participates with these organizations against our soldiers on the one hand, and declares that they are our slanderers on the other,” he said.

“Cut contact with them.”