Honenu to Military Advocate General: Investigate the false statement

Wednesday, March 1, 2023, 19:47 Honenu Attorney Eladi Weisel wrote a letter to the Military Advocate General, Major General Yifat Tomer Yerushalmi, demanding that she examine why the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit made a false statement claiming that settlers had assaulted Binyamin Brigade Commander Colonel Eliav Elbaz on Sunday (February 26), despite the Jerusalem District Court ruling that his testimony was incorrect.

The statement claims that the settlers assaulted Colonel Elbaz near Rimonim when he tried to prevent them from throwing rocks at Arab cars after the terror attack in Hawara that same day in which Hallel and Yagel Yaniv, Hy”d, were murdered. The settlers were detained after Colonel Elbaz claimed he had been assaulted. The Jerusalem Magistrates and District Courts ruled that Colonel Elbaz gave unreliable testimony and released the detainees, who were represented by Honenu Attorneys Nati Rom and Adi Keidar.

In his letter to the Military Advocate General, Honenu Attorney Eladi Weisel described the unfolding of events: “On February 26, 2023, my clients, law-abiding citizens who do not have criminal records, went out to protest the terrible attack that took place the same morning in the town of Hawara in which two brothers, Yagel and Hallel Yaniv, Hy”d, were murdered in cold blood. To the shock of my clients, Binyamin Brigade Commander Colonel Eliav Elbaz ordered them detained on a claim that they had assaulted him. However, during a court hearing at which my clients were represented by Honenu Attorneys Adi Keidar and Nati Rom, Magistrates Court Judge Amir Shaked ruled that the video clip presented to him ‘does not corroborate (to put it mildly) the testimony of/complaint from the [Binyamin] Brigade Commander,’ and rejected the request by the police to extend the remand of the detainees by five days and conditionally released them.

“Also, during the [Jerusalem] District Court hearing on the appeal [by the police] regarding the decision for the release, Judge [Miriam] Lomp ruled that the evidence presented before her, including eyewitness accounts from border police officers of the incident, ‘does not correspond to the description of the incident as testified to by the brigade commander… The video presented to me does not agree with the [commander’s testimony]. The eyewitness accounts do.’ In light of those clear rulings, the district court also rejected the request for a remand extension and my clients were released,” wrote Weisel.

Attorney Weisel continued, “To our great shock and dismay, despite the clear and consistent court rulings, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit issued a false statement that jarringly ignored the rulings and falsely described the incident according to the rejected testimony of the brigade commander. The statement stated, ’Yesterday (Sunday) a report was received of two Israeli citizens who threw rocks at a Palestinian car near the community of Rimonim in the Binyamin Brigade Region. In order to remove the rock throwers from the site, the regional brigade commander, who was passing nearby, approached the area. The suspects verbally assaulted the officer and shoved him. Border police forces detained both of them, and they were transferred to the police for further processing.”

Attorney Weisel stressed in his letter that the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit had ignored the judges’ ruling on Binyamin Brigade Commander Elbaz’s testimony and presented a false picture: “It should be emphasized, to remove all doubt, that the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit issued their statement over three hours after the district court hearing had finished. Thus, the claim that they erred in their appraisal of the situation and had not been updated concerning what had been determined in the hearing must not be accepted. The statement by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit is mendacious and ignores the consistent rulings of the two courts that released my clients and ruled that the testimony of the brigade commander contradicts the eyewitness testimonies [of border police officers] and a video clip filmed at the scene. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit must not rely in its official statement on testimony that the courts ruled did not correspond to what had actually occurred at the scene. The statement was biased and misleading.”

In conclusion, Weisel demanded that the Military Advocate General thoroughly investigate the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit and the other authorities who were involved in issuing the false statement: “Thus it is necessary to demand that the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit issue a press release as soon as possible to clarify the matter and clear my client of the slander. The IDF Spokesperson must be summoned to clarify the matter of publicizing a false statement. Everyone involved must be reprimanded.” concluded Weisel.

Honenu Attorney Eladi Weisel stated, “The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit is an important department responsible for increasing public trust in the IDF. Therefore, it must not violate this trust. By blatantly ignoring the clear court decisions and publicizing the false statement, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit showed contempt for its obligation to the public and brutally trampled the good name of the settlers. We must not remain silent over this disgraceful and hurtful conduct.”

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