Summary: Israeli State Attorney’s Office withdraws demand that Breaking the Silence reveal the identity of soldiers who testified about Operation Protective Edge

1st March 2017: The Israeli State Attorney’s Office has withdrawn its request requiring SRT grantee Breaking the Silence to hand over material relating to investigations into human rights violations by the Israeli military in Gaza, including the identity of the soldiers who testified. Breaking the Silence, represented by lawyers Michael Sfard and Gaby Lasky, argued at a court hearing last year that the identities of its testifiers should be protected.

The State Attorney and the Military Police Investigation Unit took Breaking the Silence to court in May 2016 to require the organisation to disclose the identities of soldiers who testified about their service in Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip in July-August 2014. This request, if agreed by the court, would have effectively ended Breaking the Silence’s ability to continue working, as it would no longer have been able to guarantee the security of its sources. The request came soon after a series of unprecedented physical, legal and media attacks against the organisation by members of the Knesset and pro-settler organisations during late 2015 and early 2016.

Michael Sfard said, “We are pleased that the State Attorney eventually respected the moral and legal obligation of the organization to maintain the confidentiality of the soldiers who testified before it and that they have made concessions on this issue. From the onset, we have argued that organizations like Breaking the Silence enjoy the privilege of journalistic immunity, a violation of which would be dangerous not only to the organization but to all of Israeli society. Essentially, our argument has been accepted.”

Yehuda Shaul, Co-Founder of Breaking the Silence, said, “We will continue to protect the identity of soldiers in the face of all political and cynical attempts intended to silence and intimidate soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories against speaking out about the reality of the occupation.”

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