IDF commander refutes Breaking the Silence testimony
Weighing in on an investigation of a spokesman for the left-wing group over testimony in which he claimed to have seriously assaulted a Palestinian during his IDF service in Hebron, Omri Seiner, his commander at the time, insists the incident 'never happened. All soldiers under his command also say it didn't.'
Dean Issacharoff is currently under investigation in light of testimony he provided for the group claiming he assaulted a Palestinian during his military service in Hebron. His commander Omri Seiner has refuted the claims, which he says contradict the values of the IDF.
Breaking the Silence is made up of former IDF soldiers and officers who seek to "expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life" in the West Bank and provide lectures and information around the world on alleged IDF misconduct.
Speaking in an interview with Ynet, Seiner, who served as Issacharoff's company commander at the time of the alleged assault, said the incident he described in his recorded testimony “never happened. All the soldiers under Dean's command also said so (that it didn’t happen).”
First and foremost, soldiers must fulfil orders as long as they are legal, Seiner explained in the interview.
"A soldier is expected to do what his commanders say. That is the framework. All soldiers, especially those in our battalion, and especially those in my company, would have had an open door to come to me. This Dean never came to me and said 'This or that is not ok. Let’s talk about it,'" he adamantly stated.
“As a company commander, if someone gives you an order you believe to be illegal, you need to raise the gauntlet and say ‘I won’t do that.’”
Reemphasizing the incident was entirely fabricated, Seiner said that “it is our obligation to say it, to protect our morals and the values of the IDF.”
Breaking the Silence has yet to issue a response to Seiner’s rebuttal. Meanwhile, Amit Deri, a spokesman for the group Reservists on Duty, which is responsible for the petition filed to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) to investigated Issacharoff, questioned why Issacharoff was so reluctant to engage in a serious discussion on the matter with people present during the alleged assault.
“We say let’s check into (what he is saying). All the soldiers who provided testimony, let’s go do a polygraph test with the soldiers. Are you prepared?” Deri challenged Issacharoff in his absence. “Why isn’t he sitting here now with us, and why isn’t he prepared to sit in any studio? He won’t agree to it. If the incident occurred, send him to jail. Twenty-two people provided testimony and said it never happened.”
The investigation got underway at the behest of Minister Shaked, who asked Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to look into the testimony Issacharoff provided for the group, which has become the subject of increasing controversy in Israel.
Breaking the Silence insists it works to expose the daily realities for Palestinians in the West Bank, while many in Israel, particularly in the political establishment, accuse it of besmirching Israel’s name abroad. Opponents of the group further decry the fact it is largely funded by foreign governments, saying it constitutes foreign interference in Israeli domestic affairs.