The State Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday it was closing an investigation against Dean Issacharoff, who claimed to have assaulted a Palestinian stone-thrower while serving in the army reserves in Hebron.
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Issacharoff is the spokesman for Breaking the Silence, an organization that collects testimonies from Israeli soldiers and veterans about their service in the territories. He served as an officer in the Nahal infantry brigade.
Prosecutors said their investigation showed that the incident, to which Issacharoff confessed in a video recording, “never happened.”
The investigation began in June after the video was made public, in the wake of calls by veterans’ groups as well as Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The State Prosecutor’s Office said at the time that the military advocate general requested the investigation before Shaked went to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.
When questioned by police, Issacharoff repeated the story he related on the video. He said that in February 2014, during reserve duty in the West Bank city of Hebron, he assaulted a Palestinian man after he was arrested for throwing rocks at soldiers. Investigators tracked down the man, Hassan Joulani, who told them soldiers did not use violence against him beyond that necessary to handcuff him — Joulani admitted to resisting the wrist restraints.
“Joulani said he was not hit, injured, did not bleed, did not feel dizzy and did not faint,” the prosecution said.
Joulani’s version of events matches that of the company commander, who was at the scene at the time of the incident. Prosecutors said this version was corroborated by additional evidence, and said that Issacharoff had lied.
Ronen Silberstein, a soldier in Issacharoff’s unit who was present when Joulani was arrested, supported Issacharoff’s version of the events. In a video obtained by Haaretz, Silberstein says he served with Issacharoff in Hebron for a month and a half near the end of his service. He says he remembers he witnessed the incident.
Silberstein, who came to Israel from London to serve in the IDF, and now has returned to England, says he was part of a team that dealt with the riots and they arrested a man and Issacharoff did attack him to arrest him.
In response to the closure of the investigation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Facebook: “Breaking the Silence lies and slanders our soldiers around the world. Today this fact received further proof, if anyone had a doubt. The truth wins out.”
Shaked praised Issacharoff’s fellow soldiers for speaking out, adding that Breaking the Silence lies and slanders Israel. “It is a good thing the truth came out about this organization,” the justice minister said.
Issacharoff’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said that her client stands behind his words and is outraged at being presented as a liar. Lasky said that Issacharoff would like an opportunity for all of the evidence to be examined in open court.
Avner Gvaryahu, the executive director of Breaking the Silence, said the organization was not surprised by the decision to close the case. “What began as a political directive from [Shaked] became a political investigation and ended in a political and biased conclusion,” he said.