04/12/2016, 14.00
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For Israeli activist, occupation is against peace, equal rights and dignity are needed

Nadav Bigelman, a researcher with Breaking the Silence, told AsiaNews that the violence in Israel and Palestine is evidence of the "failure" of the status quo. The Israeli right has been responsible for unprecedented attacks against NGOs and activists. “[W]e will not be deterred and will keep up our work”. He calls on the international community to support Israel whilst condemning the occupation.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Nadav Bigelman is an Israeli activist and a researcher for an important Israeli NGO. He spoke to AsiaNews about the latest wave of violence in Israel and Palestine.

The wave “proves the failure of the status quo of occupation and a de-facto one-state reality,” and shows the error of those who think that that Israel can “maintain national security and achieve peace and quiet under the current conditions”.

Asked about the current situation in the Territories, the attacks and the violence exacerbated in recent months by the Third Intifada, the knives Intifada, he points out that "The only path forward for a sustainable future requires equal rights and dignity for all citizens”.

Bigelman is Jewish, an Israeli, and a former soldier who served in the Palestinian Territories. At present, he is a leading researcher with Breaking the Silence (BtS), an Israeli NGO that collects testimonies from veterans and former soldiers with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) about violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.

Founded in 2004, BtS offers soldiers a place to discuss, reflect, and confidentially talk about their experiences. “Our job is not to provide a [political] solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he explained, “but rather to remind people again and again that so long as Palestinian civilians live under a military regime, no solution is possible.”

“There are plenty of potential solutions,” he added, “but as [a] group of 1,000 soldiers and veterans, what unites us is an opposition to the ongoing occupation.”

However, over the past few months, BtS has “faced an unprecedented wave of attacks,” led by rightwing groups close to the government. This campaign is unparalleled for its “intensity and prolonged in nature”, Bigelman said, and includes “planting infiltrators in civil society organizations” to sow “fear and paranoia among human rights activists”.

In January, a fire broke out in the Jerusalem offices of B'Tselem, possibly an arson attack. In recent weeks, the Netanyahu government has boosted its expansionist policy in the territories, whilst cracking down on human rights groups in Gaza and the West Bank.

It “seems as if the Israeli right-wing targeted BtS with the goal of eliminating it, and has been working intensively for several months (if not years) to achieve this outcome”; however, “we will not be deterred and will keep up our work until the occupation ends.”

Recently, an Israeli TV station, Channel 2, broadcasted a highly misleading and devious report, showing footage of BtS members collecting “confidential information that could potentially endanger the security of the state.”

On top of that, BtS has been accused of trying to “persuade pre-military youth to enlist in specific IDF units to collect intelligence and spy on the IDF from within.”

All this has led to accusations that B​tS members are guilty of - in the words of Defence Minister Moshe (Boogie) Ya'alon - “treason”.

“Needless to say, both of these claims are false,” Bigelman said. What makes them worse is that “they come from the highest political echelons.”

In fact, the Israel Defence Forces contradicted the minister. The chief military censor publicly stated that, "Everything that Breaking the Silence published was passed on to the military censor in advance and approved for publication, as it posed no substantial harm to state security."

Ultimately, for the Israeli peace activist, “We believe that the international community should both state clearly that their support of Israel is strong and solid, while condemning the occupation and differentiating between the occupation and Israel proper.”

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