Breaking the Silence Attorney: Put the ‘Occupation’ on Trial

YERUSHALAYIM -
Student confrontation at a Breaking The Silence event, at the Hebrew University in 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In an interview Sunday, Gaby Lasky, an attorney representing leftist activist Dean Issacharoff, warned the Justice Ministry not to try and indict his client for mistreating Palestinians. “If they indict him, we will make the occupation the main witness for his defense. It is the government and its policy of occupation that is at fault, and it is they who should be on trial.”

Issacharoff was questioned Thursday on charges that he beat a Palestinian while he served reserve duty in the Chevron area several years ago. The questioning came at the behest of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, after Issacharoff admitted to the action in a widely viewed video.

Issacharoff is a spokesperson for the far-left Breaking the Silence organization. In a video that was released by Breaking the Silence several months ago, Issacharoff is seen describing an incident in Chevron in which he abused an unarmed Palestinian, as an IDF officer serving reserve duty four years ago. Soldiers, including Issacharoff, were trying to arrest the Palestinian, who was resisting in a non-combative manner. “My commander asked me to handcuff the suspect, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know what to do. He didn’t speak Hebrew and I didn’t speak Arabic. So I grabbed him by the neck and began kicking him in the face and the chest, until he was bleeding.”

The point of the video was to show the “corrupting influences of the occupation on IDF soldiers,” Breaking the Silence said, but the only corruption in the video was that of Issacharoff who testified about his crimes, said Shaked. As a result, she had asked State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit to open an investigation into the matter.

During the questioning, Issacharoff was shown the video, and investigators asked about details of the even he was describing. Lasky said in the interview that Issacharoff stands behind his actions, and blames them on the “atmosphere engendered by the occupation. If this investigation continues it will have to include others, especially the commanders and the policymakers who instituted a situation where an army is forced to carry out policing duties against a civilian population.”

The fact that Issacharoff had described his experiences in numerous public speeches with no consequence, and is now being questioned – at the request of Shaked – proves that he is being politically persecuted. “She is using the justice system in a political manner to advance her interests,” said Lasky. “My client was sent by commanders to carry out these missions, and if he is the only one being questioned, he is clearly a victim of politics.”

In a statement, the Prosecutors Office said that the decision to question Issacharoff was based on evidence in the video. “There were numerous requests by our office to investigate the matter, among them a request from the Justice Minister. The decision to open an investigation was made after a thorough examination of the materials in the case, based on current and previous cases and precedents. Any other reasons given for our decision are incorrect,” it said.