On May 4, 2015, Breaking the Silence, a small Israeli non-governmental organisation, published anonymous allegations from Israel Defence Forces soldiers who are said to have fought in Gaza during summer 2014… While there are many problems with the claims, many journalists, including from Australia, repeated the accusation of a few disgruntled Israelis, without any verification.
Naming sources is a basic prerequisite for making legal claims, allowing accounts to be verified and witnesses to be questioned. Dates must be provided and locations cited to understand the broader context in which events were alleged to have taken place. Without this information, we are left with a radical political agenda that exploits the language of international law.
Breaking the Silence receives substantial funding from radical Europeans, who link their donations to the number of statements that are collected. The Dutch church organisation ICCO demanded at least 90 incriminating interviews, while Oxfam (which claims to promote a humanitarian agenda) linked funding directly with the provision of “as many interviews as possible” regarding “immoral activities”. These arrangements highlight the clear financial interest in presenting as many negative testimonies as possible.
The funders are clearly interested in portraying the actions of IDF soldiers as criminal and callous, thereby hoping to pave the way for prosecutions targeting Israel at the International Criminal Court.
Of course no army is perfect, and some soldiers may have legitimate complaints. But as in any democratic society, this must be done through legal and administrative processes, and not by garnering headlines in the foreign media.