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האם קוריאה הדרומית תסגיר אותו להאג? הקצין ש”רק מילא פקודות” של השב”כ והורה לאנוס עצירה פלסטינית הוא אל”מ יריב בן עזרא, כיום נספח צה”ל בסיאול
In 2015, the Shin Bet arrested a young Palestinian woman in Hebron, under suspicion she was affiliated with Hamas. Though she was interrogated and no useful intelligence was obtained, security personnel determined they needed to get her cell phone SIM card to monitor any contacts she may have had using it.
They searched her home and her bedroom without finding it. At that point, a Shin Bet officer ordered a full-body (invasive) search of the woman. A female army physician and soldier forced her to completely disrobe and probed her anus and vagina, which they suspected might be hidden there. It was not found (though later it was found in her bedroom).
Such searches, especially of women, are not only unusual, they are forbidden except in the case of an imminent threat of terror attack (a “ticking bomb”).
Here is how the IDF doctor characterized her actions in the incident:
Doctor: Of course, by virtue of my being a physician and an officer and by virtue of having received a directive. I knew it was something important, so I did it. I also remember the girl saying to me, in English, “What are you doing? I am a virgin.”
Investigator: Who gave you the directive to execute the invasive search, an army person or a Shin Bet person?
Dr: I just don’t remember. I always exercise judgment. It didn’t shock me so much. Was I happy about it? Not really, but the ‘headline’ above it was that she was a Hamas money woman, so I assumed that if I’d been given that order, I could count on my commanders that they wouldn’t let me execute it for no reason. Look, I don’t regret it. I did my duty. But in retrospect, I told myself that I could have lived better without being involved in that act.
Investigator: Don’t you think that this is an order that has a “black flag” [a Hebrew expression referring to something forbidden] flying over it?
Dr.: No, I didn’t affect her health. I did it with the respect due to her, and it was good that I was the one who did it and not someone else. I felt that it was a last resort. It’s not my place to cast doubt on the commanders.
Ever the good German, the good doctor argues that the victim should consider herself lucky that an educated, civilized person raped her. After all, it could have been worse. How it could have been worse isn’t specified. Note as well that the physician, an IDF officer, defends her actions as being ordered from above, under the assumption that any order given to her must be obeyed.
On the contrary, the Supreme Court long ago characterized certain military orders as illegal, calling them “black flags.” Justices noted that it was legal for an officer to reject such commands and refuse to fulfill them. It’s doubtful that today’s Supreme Court, which is heavily populated by settler justices and Likud appointees would have any use for such niceties. But at least the legal term has been ratified by precedent, if not current usage.
המתואר בכתבה מהווה כשל חמור בתפיסת תפקיד הרופאה ופגיעה חמורה בצעירה עד כדי תקיפה ואונס. לרופאה היתה החובה לסרב לשתף פעולה עם ההליך הפוגעני והמשפיל ולמנוע אותו. באופן ברור לא היה כל צורך רפואי בפעולה שננקטה. https://t.co/rmjOwT35vZ
— רופאים לזכויות אדם (@PHR_IL) April 23, 2021
I contacted Physicians for Human Rights-Israel to ask if they’d released any statement on the incident. Though the director told me they hadn’t, they later did release such a statement (above tweet):
“What is described in the report constitutes a severe failure regarding the understanding of the role of the physician and caused serious damage to the young woman [victim], including assault and rape. Medicine has an obligation to refuse to cooperate with any process which demeans or degrades, and to prevent it. Clearly, there wasn’t any need for the procedure that was inflicted [on her].”
Returning to the issue of the Black Flag, the justice ministry investigator asks the IDF company clerk this exact question:
Investigator: Isn’t there a “black flag” flying over such a search?
Clerk: I really love people and I tend to believe in them. The moment there is a suspicion that a person has acted in a way that’s harmful to others, the moment he hurts citizens that I swore to protect – I received an order and I carried it out. I didn’t have a pleasant feeling about it, but that’s the order I received and you have to do what has to be done.
The clerk also participated in the search. She places responsibility for the order squarely on the Shin Bet:
Clerk:… The company commander received the order from the Shin Bet guy and he passed it on to me. The Shin Bet guy was more dominant. He was obviously in control there. I want to believe that they had the right considerations for doing the search.
She obeyed, less than happy to do so. But she too was a good soldier and did her duty:
We wore gloves. I didn’t really enjoy the situation. I was told to do a search and I did it.
At first, the clerk had been reluctant to participate. But one of the Shin Bet officials promised her an interview with a Shin Bet recruiter after she left military service. She later asked for his recommendation. She was interviewed, but the Haaretz account says her application “did not go forward.” Which could mean she didn’t proceed. But more likely means she was rejected. Imagine how she must have felt to have been enticed to do the Shin Bet’s dirty work and then summarily rejected.
“Oved,” the lower level Shin Bet officer on the scene also confirms the Clerk’s claim that his boss, Yossi, gave the directive for the illegal search. During his interrogation, he said:
“I can tell you with certainty that I received a directive from the district coordinator, Yossi, and also from the interrogator who was with me.”
Investigator: I want to be more precise. Whose idea was it to conduct a search of this kind?
Oved: The answer is that it wasn’t my idea. There is a district coordinator above me…What is certain is that the district coordinator was updated and aware of the internal search, because either it came from him or I updated him that this is what had been decided.
In subsequent questioning, Oved was asked whether he was the one who initiated the order. He conveniently passed blame on the other two Shin Bet personnel on the scene:
“I would say with a very high degree of probability that it was not of my initiative,” Oved replied. “Probability that is close to certainty. In my most probable estimation, Avi asked for an intimate search to be conducted and I received authorization from the coordinator Yossi.”
The fact that he refuses to directly say he didn’t do it and instead uses the odd term “with a very high degree of probability” sounds fishy to me and implicates him as a serious suspect.
The IDF brigade commander also implicates Yossi as issuing the initial order:
I was briefed by telephone by the district coordinator, Yossi. It was said that the mission was to get to the SIM card, that’s what’s important. He noted that the SIM card might be concealed in intimate areas.
However, he too was a willing collaborator as he told his own personnel:
“I said that if we didn’t find a SIM card, they had permission to conduct an intimate search.”
The brigade commander’s superior was the battalion commander. The latter too implicates Yossi and covers his ass:
When I realized that it was an exceptional event, I checked with the division that it was authorized, and I checked with Yossi from the Shin Bet that it was necessary.
Investigator: Do you know the provisions of the law about a search of this kind?
Brigade commander: From my point of view, when the Shin Bet enters the picture, they bring with them the need or the law in these matters. In this specific incident, my understanding was that it was not something exceptionally unusual, in light of the intelligence information. If I had understood at that point in time that I was in violation of the law, I would have halted the mission, but in light of the fact that it was a mission that came down from the Shin Bet, I understood that this what needed to be done.
Note the IDF officer’s direct contradiction of himself. When it’s convenient to his interrogation he tells the investiagor that it was exceptional and he, therefore, consulted with his division commander. But when the questioner says that the search was clearly illegal, he then reverts to the position that it was the opposite–that it wasn’t exceptional at all. This is the sort of legal gymnastics of someone desperate to keep himself out of big trouble. A further question I have is–if a battalion commander doesn’t understand that a vaginal search of a female suspect is both illegal and constitutes rape, then why is he a senior officer? At what rank should we expect an IDF officer would know this information and act on it?
Here is more of the odd thinking of the commander:
Investigator: Are you even allowed to order your subordinates to conduct an intimate search?
Brigade commander: I do not have the authority to order an intimate search. The moment we’re talking about a mission that is passed on by the Shin Bet and authorized in terms of my personnel, then yes, I can instruct soldiers to execute the mission according to my understanding.
In other words, the IDF itself purportedly has legal limits and he understands what they are. But the Shin Bet knows no such limits and as long as it tells him to violate his own military directive, then it magically becomes legal.
The Shin Bet’s Yossi, for his part is as pure as the driven snow. He didn’t authorize such a search and knows it was illegal. He admits he may have used the term “intimate” in directing the IDF personnel, but maintains that he only meant they should check her bra. The subsequent search that was done was based, he says, on a “misunderstanding.” He then continues:
Yossi: I have no authority to order things like that, there’s a law in the State of Israel.
Indeed, there is a law in Israel. But God only knows what it is.
During a confrontation between the IDF officer and Yossi over the nature of the directive concerning the search, the latter makes an exceedingly strange distinction :
Yossi: Intimate organ, yes, not inside the woman’s sexual organ.
Can someone explain the difference between an “intimate” female organ and a woman’s sexual organ? Or is Yossi biologically challenged when it comes to understanding the female anatomy?
Later during the same confrontation, Yossi pointedly asks the officer whether he used the words “vagina” or “anus” in issuing his order:
Brigade commander: There was a conversation and the need was explained to get the SIM card, which could be in the woman’s front sexual organ, or in her rear organ.
Yossi: Is that what I said, brigade commander?
Brigade commander: I said “understanding.” I don’t remember [enough] to say exactly when. My understanding from the conversation with the Shin Bet person was that it was possible that she was hiding the SIM card in her intimate organs, in the front or in the back, that this is part of the need and this is what needs to be executed.
And so they’ve conveniently gotten each other off the hook. By a set of totally illogical, inconceivable misunderstandings they committed a rape without anyone intending to.
IDF Officer Who Approved Rape Identified
For days, I’ve been eager to identify the medical, security, and military personnel who perpetrated this outrage. Now, thanks to a confidential Israeli source, I can expose the IDF brigade commander, who either himself ordered the rape exam, or facilitated it. He is Col. Yariv Ben Ezra. At the time, he was the head of the Hebron Brigade, responsible for the security of the 25,000 illegal Israeli settlers who’ve forced themselves on 200,000 Palestinian residents there.
Reading the Megillah yesterday with the Jewish US military personnel at Camp Humphreys was a special Purim experience! 📜
— Akiva Tor (@AkivaTor) February 26, 2021
Ben Ezra also testified against Elor Azarya, the IDF soldier who murdered a wounded, unarmed Palestinian in cold blood. Ben Ezra was the senior officer in the Hebron region where the killing happened. How ironic that the same officer who approved the rape of a Palestinian woman, also attempted to put the best face on another IDF war crime. In my reporting, I also identified the battalion commander who was at the scene of that murder. Lt Col David Shapira headed the Shimshon Battalion. I have not been able to determine definitively whether he was also the battalion commander in the rape incident.
Today, Ben Ezra has been promoted for his “superior work” and is the army defense attache in South Korea. Is that country aware that Israel’s defense attache there has been accused of rape? And that he could some day face justice in the Hague? He has been celebrated in various media stories, including by diplomat Akiva Tor, who once was the foreign ministry’s consul General in the western US. The only consequence he will face is a reprimand in his personnel file.
אני רוצה רגע לדבר על אל”ם אחד בצה”ל. הוא מקבל הוראה מאיש שב”כ לבצע חיפוש באיבר מין ובפי הטבעת של חשודה.
לא שואל שאלות, לא מדבר עם מפקדיו, לא עם ייעוץ משפטי, לא רואה מודיעין. רובוט על מדים. “בעבר הרגתי אנשים כי שב”כ אמר לי”, סיפר.
עדיין משרת, כמובן.https://t.co/teoQGHiLJ8
— Josh Breiner (@JoshBreiner) April 23, 2021
Here is what the Haaretz reporter tweeted about him:
I want to talk for a moment about an IDF Colonel. He gets an order from a Shin Bet officer to conduct a search of a femal suspect’s vagina and anus. Doesn’t ask questions. Doesn’t speak with his commanders, not with [IDF] legal advisors. Doesn’t see any intelligence [justifying it]. A robot in uniform. Who says: “In the past I killed people because Shin Bet told me to.” Still serving, of course.
There were three Shin Bet personnel involved in this incident including a district coordinator, a senior official having the military rank of Colonel. There were two IDF senior officers, an army physician and a female soldier involved as well. The investigation and interrogations pointed to the senior Shin Bet officer, “Yossi,” as the one who ordered the illegal search of the victim. But he claimed that his order was misunderstood by his subordinates, and that he did not give such a directive.
During the investigation, Shin Bet chief told “Yossi” that he would arrange to have the case dismissed if he agreed to resign. Yossi refused. He was transferred from field operations to the training center, where he now teaches agents how to “properly” interrogate their subjects (!)
At first, the Justice Ministry refused to pursue any investigation. But a female senior prosecutor pressed the matter. Another official present at a meeting with the attorney general said that if they refused, the case would be brought before the ICC in the Hague (it should).
After a long investigation, the Justice ministry determined it could not prove who ordered the rape of the victim. So it has closed the case with no charges against any of the personnel. The ICC takes cases in which countries prove unwilling or unable to investigate war crimes properly. This case is a perfect example of what it should investigate. Under its investigatory mandate, this crime happened within the time frame (2014 till today) in which it is currently conducting a war crimes inquiry.
Not a chance in the world that any Israeli police officer would ever rape any Israeli Jew, male or female, in such fashion. Though they have raped male Hezbollah prisoners, even in that case the commander who ordered the rape was disciplined and his unit disbanded (though it was later reactivated). But there have been no known incidents in which Palestinian women have been so ill-treated.
The justice ministry responded that the case was handed back to the Shin Bet to determine whether it would take any action against its personnel involved. When asked, the agency refused to say whether anyone had faced any consequences for their actions; or whether any procedures were put in place to prevent this happening again.
If anyone knows the identities of any of the other individuals involved in this incident, please contact me in total confidence. I would particularly wish to identify the IDF physician who actually raped the victim in violation of every medical code of ethics.