Document reveals IDF-Betzelem “productive dialogue”

Sunday, November 29, 2015, 18:24 On Sunday, November 29 Honenu revealed a document showing that the Military Advocate General and the left-wing Betzelem organization have both “working procedures held in common” and a “productive dialogue based on the common interest of enforcing regulations concerning complaints against IDF soldiers”.
The document was revealed during the course of the trial of Ben Deri, a border policeman accused of killing an Arab rioter who threw rocks in Beituniya on “Naqba Day” in May 2014. In the document Lieutenant-Colonel Ronen Hirsch, a former Military Advocate for Operational Matters, complained that Betzelem leaked a rough draft of a document relating to the shooting of two Arab rioters during an incident in Beituniya. He said that he had transferred the document as part of an “on-going dialogue” between the IDF and Betzelem. After Hirsch stated that he was surprised by Betzelem’s conduct, he detailed the relationship between the Military Advocate General and the left-wing Betzelem organization.
“I served as the Military Advocate for Operational Matters for close to four years,” wrote Lieutenant-Colonel Hirsch. “During those years we deepened our productive dialogue with the Betzelem organization, formed common procedures and carefully adhered to the appropriate norms of conduct and ethics. All of this was out of regard for the common interest of actively enforcing complaints relating to the actions of IDF soldiers.”
Shmuel (Zangi) Meidad, the director of Honenu, which provides legal counsel to IDF soldiers who are investigated for their actions during military operations, has been assisting border policeman Ben Deri throughout his trial. Meidad: “The document is outrageous, and explains the severe manner in which the Military Police Criminal Investigation Division (MPCID) and the Military Advocate General treat soldiers. It is forbidden for a governmental judicial authority to cooperate in any capacity with outside agencies in general, especially when they are hostile. In a situation such as this, in which it turned out that the military authorities are acting in cooperation with organizations openly hostile to the soldiers under their command and whose demands cause injuries in the field, it is no wonder that the soldiers fear being abandoned . It is also no wonder that many soldiers do not have confidence in the military system. The situation borders on treachery. In keeping with the spirit of the times, I will recall the legacy of Rabin, who prayed to be able to work ‘without petitions to the High Court and without Betzelem.’”
Attorney Tzion Amir, who is representing Ben Deri for Honenu, issued a statement together with Ben Deri’s family: “While studying the investigative material in the case, we were exposed to documents indicating the existence of a connection, apparently a continuous connection over a long period of time, between the Betzelem organization and both the military and the police. The documents indicate that during an investigation of a border policeman and of an operational activity combating disturbances, the Israeli Police requested the involvement of the Betzelem organization for the purpose of obtaining certain pieces of evidence. One example is a bullet from a weapon which supposedly had injured a Palestinian. An additional document which drew our attention concerns a letter to the Betzelem organization from an IDF authority within the Attorney General’s office. The letter shows a longstanding close connection between the organizations. The involvement of organizations which are not investigatory and enforcement agencies as are the IDF and police, sets off alarm bells with me. In my humble opinion the way in which the police and possibly other authorities received evidence from Palestinian sources must be thoroughly examined to ascertain that the evidence has not been tampered with before transfer to Israeli authorities. We are in the process of verifying that the Attorney General’s office examines the issue.”

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