A new twist in Israel′s case against ′Breaking the Silence′ and Dean Issacharoff | News | DW | 22.11.2017
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A new twist in Israel's case against 'Breaking the Silence' and Dean Issacharoff

An Israeli NGO has demanded an apology from Israel's top prosecutor for allegedly interviewing the wrong victim during a probe into the assault of a Palestinian man. The NGO claims that its integrity has been attacked.

The NGO "Breaking the Silence" (BtS) has accused the Israeli State Attorney's Office of partaking in a "show-trail" against its speaker, Dean Issacharoff, after evidence emerged on Tuesday that suggests the prosecution interviewed the wrong victim during its investigation.

The case dates back to 2014, when Issacharoff admitted that he had grievously assaulted a Palestinian man in the town of Hebron while serving as a soldier in the Israeli military. His admission was seen as crucial in BtS' mission of getting former Israeli combatants to expose the realities of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.

Issacharoff's testimony prompted a police enquiry against him.

Read more: Israeli, Palestinian women march together for peace

However, last week, prosecutors closed their case and accused Issacharoff of lying about the incident. The prosecution had interviewed Issacharoff's alleged victim, Hassan Julani, who testified that, while he was arrested by soldiers, he was done so in a non-violent manner. The ruling was seen as a major blow to BtS and the integrity of its mission.

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Israel: Breaking the Silence

However, Issacharoff immediately accused the prosecution of interviewing the wrong Palestinian man, and on Monday BtS released a video reportedly showing Issacharoff in uniform leading away a civilian with what appeared to be facial wounds.

Real victim tracked down?

Following the release of the footage, a local Israeli broadcaster on Tuesday interviewed a man claiming to be the victim in the video. Faisal el-Natche told the Israel Television News Company that "the soldiers beat me, with their hands and their feet; they attacked me and those with me."

When asked whether he had been interviewed as part of the investigation into Issacharoff's claims, Natche said he hadn't. He was, however, unable to identify Issacharoff as his assailant.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the State Attorney's Office responded to the video by saying that Natche's account of the assault was different to that of Issacharoff, but added that it could nevertheless open a second investigation.

Apology demanded

In a Facebook post published on Wednesday, BtS accused the State Attorney's Office of engaging "in a campaign of political persecution and incitement against a 25 year-old former combat officer. All in an attempt to discredit the testimonies of around 1,200 soldiers and officers who broke their silence and oppose the occupation." 

Read more: Israel raids Palestinian media firms for 'incitement'

Speaking to the Jerusalem Post, BtS’ legal representative, attorney Michael Sfard, said it was clear that the Attorney's Office would open a new case and effectively negate its conclusion that Issacharoff had lied.

Fallout reaches Berlin

Details have also emerged in Israeli media that, following the prosecution's initial finding, the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement to all its embassies, calling on them to denounce Issacharoff and label him a liar.

The call was also put to Issacharoff's father, who is currently Israel's ambassador to Germany.

Jeremy Issacharoff instead took to Twitter to post a link to statement made by his wife, which urged all government and public officials to stop using hateful language against former soldiers. Her remarks came in response to claims made by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Zipi Chotoveli that former soldiers working with BtS were "traitors."

It is not the first time that the BtS has come under pressure from the government, with the group being banned from taking part in any military events. In April Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off a meeting with Germany's top diplomat, Sigmar Gabriel, after he met with the organization's leaders.

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