Israel's Atomic Energy Commission Violated State-issued Gag Order

The home of a senior PMO official was broken into on Monday, and on Tuesday a court issued a gag order on almost all details of the case. So why did it make the headlines?

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When it comes to sensitive security-related matters, does the Israeli government's right hand not know what its left hand is doing?

Early Tuesday morning, the Israel Police asked a Kfar Sava District Court judge to issue a gag order about a break-in that took place Sunday night at the home of a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office.

Police investigators who arrived in court Tuesday morning asked that the gag order cover all details related to the identities of those involved and all information related to the police probe. Justice Merav Ben-Ari approved the gag order for 90 days.

Soon after, a spokesperson for Dr. Shaul Horev, the head of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission, published a statement that included details about the position of the individual whose home was burglarized, about the property that was stolen and initial findings of the police investigation. The statement was distributed widely, with dozens of newspapers receiving it.

In effect, it was the Atomic Energy Commission, which reports to the Prime Minister's Office, that violated the gag order that the police sought. Within minutes, the story that was supposedly meant to be kept mum appeared as the leading headline in most Israeli media.

At the same time, the confusion only grew over what was permitted or forbidden for publication after the Military Censor also lifted restrictions on reporting the identity and position of the burgled employee.

A Haaretz examination revealed that the Atomic Energy Commission was unaware of the requested gag order. The commission's decision to issue a statement resulted from reports in the international press about the incident – reports which included the identity of the homeowner.

Israel Atomic Energy Commission director Shaul ChorevCredit: IAEA

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