Gal-On: ‘Furor’ Against B’Tselem May Be Linked to Fire

Firefghters outside B'tselem headquarters, January 10, 2016. Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Firefghters outside B’tselem headquarters, Sunday night. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Despite the fact that an official investigation declared that the fire at the B’Tselem headquarters in Yerushalayim was due to an electrical short, and despite the fact that witnesses have come forward, saying that they had warned the organization about the dangerous state of its electricity system, Meretz MK Zehava Gal-on is still not convinced. In an interview on Army Radio, Gal-On said that she had a “sneaking suspicion” that “something else” was involved in the fire.

Last week, the far left group was enmeshed in a major scandal, with a documentary highlighting the organization’s role in reporting to the Palestinian Authority (PA) Palestinians who seek to sell land to Jews – a certain death sentence, as PA laws mandate the death penalty for such “traitors.” In the documentary, B’Tselem activist Nasser Nawaje is seen discussing with Ezra Nawi, an Israeli leftwing activist who heads an organization called Ta’ayush, what they do with such “traitors.” Nawi and Nawaje are seen bragging one to another about how many Palestinian landsellers they informed on to the PA. When undercover activists who were surreptitiously filming the exchange asked what the fate of those landsellers was, the two answered that “the PA takes care of them … they kill them.”

The incident sparked a furor on the right, with MKs and ministers demanding an immediate investigation into both Ta’ayush and B’Tselem over the story. In a statement, B’Tselem distanced itself from the issue, saying that the documentary “did not portray the activities of Nawaje as they are associated with B’Tselem.”

No investigation has been opened yet – but for Gal-on, criticism of B’Tselem is just a few steps away from “incitement. With the organized furor against B’Tselem and other groups, and the propaganda by rightwing groups against them, I can’t imagine that we are talking about ‘an electrical short’ alone. I only hope, as B’Tselem hopes, that this was nothing more than an unfortunate coincidence.”