Two New Defense Brass Join in Support for Breaking the Silence

Under heading 'I too am breaking the silence,' ex-Shin Bet chief and former northern police commander publish ad in favor of anti-occupation group, joining other security officials.

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Former Shin Bet security service chief Ami Ayalon, in a scene from the documentary, "The Gatekeepers." He and former northern district police commander Alik Ron published an advertisement in Haaretz Hebrew edition on Tuesday, under the heading: "I too am breaking the silence."
Former Shin Bet chief Ayalon, who published an ad in Haaretz with ex-police commander Ron, under the heading: "I too am breaking the silence."Credit: AP

Former Shin Bet security services chief Ami Ayalon and Israel Police Maj. Gen. (ret.) Alik Ron published an advertisement in Haaretz Hebrew edition on Tuesday in support of the anti-occupation organization Breaking the Silence, under the heading “I too am breaking the silence.”

The two ex-security officials joined two other senior defense personalities who have expressed support in recent days for the left-wing NGO, made up of former soldiers: Maj. Gen. (res.) Amiram Levin, former commander of the elite Israel Defense Force's Sayeret Matkal unit, and Yuval Diskin, former head of the Shin Bet.

“Breaking the Silence protects IDF soldiers in the impossible situation in which politicians have abandoned them," wrote Ayalon, a former commander of the Israel Navy, and Ron, who headed the northern district of the police during the events of October 2000 (in which 13 Israeli Arab demonstrators were killed by security forces). “The guidelines meant to silence the group are what damages and weakens the army,” they added.

In an advertisement in the same vein, Levin wrote in Haaretz last Friday, “As someone who was a combatant and a commander, and who is currently a father of two combat paratrooper officers who have been there as witnesses – I too am breaking silence.”

He added that Breaking the Silence strengthens the IDF and its morality, and that silencing it is harmful to the army.

For his part, Diskin referred to the group in a Facebook posting last week. He wrote that while he opposes the activities of nongovernmental organizations and journalists “who don’t love their country,” after reading nearly every article and report by Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem or the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, “even if they are aggravating, even if they are often inaccurate and don’t always do their work properly from a professional perspective – their contribution is very important and helps us maintain the required vigilance about the most sensitive human issues.”

Added Diskin: “We are a country that controls another people in Judea and Samaria and operates different legal systems for Israeli citizens and the Palestinian residents of the area. It’s clear that the situation is very complex ... It’s good that there are journalists and good that there are NGOs monitoring the activities of the various security agencies operating in the field ... One doesn’t have to love them, but they are a very important part of every democratic regime and an important part of its strength.”

A week ago, the Israeli right-wing nonprofit Im Tirtzu organization disseminated a video in which left-wing activists, including ones from Breaking the Silence, were described as “moles” who defend terrorists.

Last Wednesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog clashed in the Knesset over the organization as well. Netanyahu called on Herzog to “come to the podium and soundly condemn Breaking the Silence, which tarnishes the image of IDF soldiers around the world, trying to tie Israel’s hands in its attempts to defend itself.” Herzog demanded that Netanyahu defend President Reuven Rivlin against what he described as incitement directed at Rivlin, after the president spoke last week at a Haaretz conference in which Breaking the Silence participated.

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