Monday, November 19, 2018, 12:25 Honenu Director Shmuel (Zangi) Meidad responded to a statement by Education Minister Naftali Bennett that, “Soldiers fear the Military Advocate General more than they fear Yahya Sinwar [the leader of Hamas in Gaza].”
“Unfortunately we are encountering a phenomenon of soldiers being hounded on a daily basis. Soldiers who endanger their lives in military operation for the sake of all of us find themselves in interrogation rooms. This is not a trivial matter. The lives of all of us are at stake. This mishpatizatziya* in the IDF has already taken its toll and does kill,” said Meidad.
* Mishpatizatziya: judicial interference in matters beyond the jurisdiction of the courts
Meidad described a particularly problematic IDF unit: “I am sorry to say that Minister Bennett is correct. The height of mishpatizatziya is the unit which the Military Advocate General established for close inspection of IDF combat soldiers, the ‘Military Advocate General of Operations’. In the unit sit officials who have never experienced combat, who have never been on a battlefield, and whose only job is to scrutinize the soldiers’ every move in every operation – why they did this and not that, why they operated in this manner and not that when faced with a terrorist. It is absurd. The feeling has trickled down to the combat zone and it seems to the soldiers that their hands are tied.”
In conclusion Meidad added: “I call on all of the security forces – police, soldiers, border police and security guards – not to hesitate to protect all of our lives. If you encounter a legal difficulty, you have rights. Contact Honenu and we will assist you. We will not leave you to fend for yourselves.”
Colonel Alon Madanes raised the issue in a document publicized several days ago: “When the jurists have no background in commanding troops on the battlefield and lack all professional responsibility, then the Military Advocate General will continue, with no malicious intent, to thwart us as a system.”
Honenu has previously revealed working relations between the Military Advocate General and the left-wing organization B’Tselem. A document was revealed during the trial of border policeman Ben Deri, who was accused of killing an Arab rioter throwing rocks at border policemen in Beitunia on Naqba Day in May 2014. In the document the Military Advocate for Operational Matters, Lieutenant-Colonel Ronen Hirsch, complained that B’Tselem had leaked a draft of a document that was transferred to them in the framework of the “on-going dialogue” that was being conducted between the sides during the investigation of the shooting of two Arab rioters at the Beitunia incident.
After he stated that he was surprised by B’Tselem’s conduct, Hirsch detailed the relationship between the Military Advocate General and the left-wing organization B’Tselem: “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 B’Tselem 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.”