JERUSALEM—The European Union (EU) funds a project to prosecute Israel Defence Forces (IDF) officers, according to a report in daily Israel Hayom which quoted a watchdog group.
The collaboration between the European Union and left-wing groups seeking to undermine Israel and the Israel Defense Forces now includes the funding of legal proceedings against IDF soldiers, a watchdog group revealed last week.
NGO Monitor, which promotes greater transparency among foreign-funded Israeli non-governmental organizations, claims that the program, to which the European Union has allocated €250,000 ($290,000), was set up at the request of three left-wing groups and is slated to be in place at least until 2021.
According to the watchdog, the initiative is the brainchild of Yesh Din—Volunteers for Human Rights, Breaking the Silence, an advocacy group dedicated to exposing alleged wrongdoings by the IDF and Physicians for Human Rights—Israel.
Citing a “culture of impunity among members of Israel’s security forces,” the groups claim that the Israeli judiciary is incapable of properly investigating illegal actions against Palestinians when those are committed by IDF soldiers.
“The military justice system allows soldiers to act with almost complete impunity” in cases involving “forced entrances into Palestinian homes,” the groups claim in the petition for E.U. funding.
The Europeans often accuse Israel of allowing its security forces to act with impunity, thus exempting them from accountability for their actions.
The E.U.’s consent to fund such legal action is considered a serious legal threat, as up until now, the international community has accepted the assumption that Israel is capable of investigating itself.
The initiative could, in fact, compromise Israel internationally, as under the Rome Statute—the treaty that outlines the principles by which the International Criminal Court in The Hague operates—a country’s inability to investigate itself is grounds for ICC intervention.
The groups claim the program is necessary so as to “identify and address, through legal and public proceedings, systemic failures in the military administration,” meaning to point a finger at officers and soldiers.
The groups have asked the E.U. for funding to supply Palestinian women with video cameras, so they could document the IDF’s security missions, especially arrest raids.
This is necessary “for the purpose of building a database, providing testimony, following up on investigations, filing appeals over their closing, and filing High Court of Justice petitions on matters of principle and in specific cases,” the funding request explained.
The program “means to keep the issue of Israel and its security forces’ impunity on the international agenda, as well as raise international awareness to the systemic impact of the failure to enforce the law on Palestinian communities.”
It further seeks to “challenge the continued violations of human rights resulting from such home invasions, which are often arbitrarily carried out by the Israeli security forces,” the request continued.
It makes no mention of the fact that these alleged “invasions” are actually raids carried out as part of the IDF and Shin Bet security agency’s counterterrorism efforts.
Shin Bet Director Nedav Argaman revealed last week that these efforts have prevented more than 250 major terrorist attacks since the beginning of the year.
The program has been set up despite its potential disruption to daily counterterrorism efforts, said NGO Monitor. The funding request does not specifically state that that is what it seeks to do, but the steps it suggests taking appear to aim for that result.
“This is a disturbing step in the way these organizations are working to raise money, especially given the European Union’s agreement to fund a project that claims that the Israeli judiciary is dysfunctional,” a statement by NGO Monitor said.
A statement by Breaking the Silence said that “as usual, Israel Hayom is not interested in checking the facts, only in false headlines that serve the political agenda of the government for which it works.
“Breaking the Silence does not, in any way, seek to prosecute Israeli soldiers and their identity is protected from those who wish them harm. Anyone trying to describe a different reality at the expense of journalistic integrity, including Israel Hayom, does so at their own risk.”
A statement by Yesh Din said, “This is a biased report that aims to present human-rights groups’ activities in a false and distorted manner.
“As we were not given adequate time to respond to this nonsense, we will say only that the attempt to present this initiative as one trying to undermine ongoing IDF activities is utterly baseless, and it is clear anyone in their right mind, including the reporter and his sources, that the truth is light years away from that.
“The claim that this program allegedly seeks to prosecute Israeli soldiers at the ICC is also a total lie,” the group said.