IDF soldiers (illustrative)
IDF soldiers (illustrative) Moshe Shai/FLASH90

Nine Knesset members recently signed a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, requesting he open an investigation into the left-wing organization "Breaking the Silence."

The letter was sent in light of a recording obtained by the "Ad Kan" organization suggesting that Breaking the Silence gathers evidence in an illegal manner. In particular, the recording showed that Breaking the Silence took testimony from soldiers in classified units.

According to the letter, "Breaking the Silence bases its reports on testimony obtained from career soldiers, conscripted soldiers, and members serving in the reserves. The testimony discusses the operations carried out by soldiers' units. According to numbers publicized by Breaking the Silence, they have gathered testimony from over 1,100 soldiers in various units included classified units such as Sayeret Matkal, Shayetet 13, Shaldag, and other elite units from the intelligence and ground forces."

"During the interviews, the soldiers are questioned in depth about their military training, troop deployments, military guidelines and plans, classified weaponry, and operations they took part in. From reviewing the testimony, it appears that the organization gathers operational information in a purposeful manner, while manipulating the soldiers and convincing them to provide classified information in serious violation of the law."

The letter also highlighted how the Director of the Research Department, Ron Zaidel, gathers information from soldiers about new methods being developed by the IDF to combat the problem of tunnels from Gaza and Lebanon.

This is particularly dangerous, the MKs noted, since "the organization has obtained an abundance of classified military information that, according to Breaking the Silence activists, is being stored on servers abroad. The organization also receives funding from foreign governments and interests, including from the Palestinians, and in some cases has even signed contracts with European Governments and foreign representatives to gather information on IDF operations in exchange for funding."

"In addition, Breaking the Silence collaborates with Palestinian organizations, including the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) which coordinates violent protests by Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.

"These facts lead us to have strong concerns that classified military information, being held illegally and irresponsibly by Breaking the Silence, could be freely disseminated and harm the security of Israel.

"We the undersigned Members of Knesset, join the call of 'Ad Kan' and call upon you, the Attorney General, to open a comprehensive investigation into the legality of the organization and its activities against the IDF. We believe that there is a 'strong public interest' in dealing with this issue."

Ad Kan Director Gilad Ach said: "Breaking the Silence gathers information on the IDF and its soldiers. The questions asked during the testimony are not related to human rights or IDF activities in Judea and Samaria. Why does Breaking the Silence care about what happens in Syria? Why do they need to know classified information? Why do they ask about operations deep in the Gaza Strip?"

"Most importantly, what information do they already have?

"It is obvious to everyone that this must be investigated. We join the Members of Knesset in calling on the Attorney General to open an unbiased investigation into this matter as has been done in similar cases in the past. It is unfathomable that a private citizen could gather and hold classified information on the IDF and be exempted from any legal consequences."

The letter was signed by Likud MKs Miki Zohar, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, Sharen Haskel, and Yoav Kisch, as well as MK Oded Furer and MK Robert Ilatov from Yisrael Beytenu, MK Moti Yogev (United Right), MK Shuli Mualem (New Right) and MK Yinon Azoulay (Shas).

Recently, Channel 2 broadcast an investigative report on Breaking the Silence that included undercover recordings from Ad Kan. Those recordings implied that Breaking the Silence gathered military information on the IDF. Following the report, Ad Kan filed a complaint with the Israeli Police and Prosecutor’s Office against Breaking the Silence, however the State chose to close the complaint. Ad Kan continued its struggle by appealing to the Attorney General, who recently sided with the Prosecutor's Office that the complaint should be closed due to a 'lack of interest to the public.'

In response the decision by the Attorney General, Ad Kan published another video attacking the actions of Breaking the Silence and revealed that Breaking the Silence gathers military intelligence on IDF soldiers including on IDF operations in Syria.

The video showed examples of questions that Breaking the Silence investigators asked of undercover Ad Kan representatives regarding sniper locations on the Syrian border and the types of vehicles and weapons used in that region by the IDF.

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