by Eileen Fleming

 

[Tel Aviv]-On Sunday, the Tel Aviv District Court sentenced former Israel Defense Forces soldier Anat Kamm to four-and-a-half years in prison for collecting, holding and passing on classified information without authorization .

Kamm was convicted in February under a plea bargain admitting guilt to gathering and storing of over 2,000 classified military documents from the Central Command office [under Maj. Gen. Naveh] during her army service. Kamm passed on the documents to reporter Uri Blau whose investigative report in Haaretz Magazine exposed misconduct by the Israel Defense Forces/IDF.

The report reveals that the IDF had approved well in advance the targeted killing of Malaisha [on June 20, 2007, during a routine military raid in the West Bank] contravening the High Court ruling and intentionally misleading the public. The report was attributed to classified IDF documents and had been approved by the Military Censor before going to press. [1]

Blau made use of classified material from those documents as the basis for two newspaper articles. In the first, published in late October 2008, Blau accused the IDF of defying a High Court of Justice ruling against the targeted killings of Palestinian terrorists. The next article, published a few weeks later, similarly intimated that the IDF had earmarked Palestinian terrorists for targeted killings, and included a photocopy of a targeted-killing order Kamm had given Blau. [2]
In her own testimony, Kamm described Maj. Gen. Naveh’s office as embarrassing in terms of information security and testified that she had not undergone any security check prior to being assigned to her army role, even though she had access to the most confidential documents. [Ibid]

Kamm’s trial maybe over, but no decision has been announced whether Israel will prosecute Uri Blau for reporting the brutal truth. Also pending is the Supreme Court decision on or before November 13th regarding nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu‘s request to implement Israel‘s citizenship revocation law against himself.

Background:

Twenty-four years after the Mossad kidnapped Vanunu from Rome after luring him from London, they returned to track down another who followed his conscience but was labeled a traitor by a state and public who view truth tellers as a threat to their sense of security.

The prey this time was Uri Blau, who went into hiding after writing a series of reports exposing lawbreaking approved by Israeli army commanders. Blau could face a lengthy jail term for espionage and Israeli security services warned they would remove the gloves and track down the fugitive felon.

The military censor, who prevents publication of information that they deem could harm Israel‘s national security, approved Blau’s story for publication in Haaretz .

Kamm had originally been charged under Israel‘s espionage and treason laws but the amended indictment dropped the charge of deliberately intending to harm state security, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The Israeli court initially gagged all news and details of Kamm’s arrest but after a cyber storm of Internet reporting, the gag order was lifted.

Shortly after her arrest, Kamm admitted to copying the documents while serving in the office in charge of operations in the West Bank, between 2005 and 2007.

The 23 year old said she acted out of conscience to expose war crimes and she believed she would be forgiven for her honesty and integrity.

Another prelude to the Kamm affair began in July 2009, when Kamm’s brothers in spirit from Breaking the Silence, an Israeli human rights group published 54 testimonies from Israeli soldiers regarding their experiences during Operation Cast Lead.

The testimonies exposed the gaps between the reports given by the army in January 2009 regarding the accepted practices; the destruction of hundreds of houses and mosques for no military purpose, the firing of phosphorous gas in the direction of populated areas, the killing of innocent victims with small arms, the destruction of private property, and most of all, a permissive atmosphere in the command structure that enabled soldiers to act without moral restrictions. [3]

On February 3, 2010, The Independent reported that a high-ranking officer who served as a commander during Operation Cast Lead, admitted that Israel‘s army went beyond its previous rules of engagement on the protection of civilian lives and that he did not regard the longstanding principle of military conduct known as means and intentions whereby a targeted suspect must have a weapon and show signs of intending to use it before being fired upon as being applicable before calling in fire from drones and helicopters in Gaza last winter. [4]

The D j Vu:

Kamm and Vanunu share the same attorneys. Kamm was initially accused of treason and espionage but Vanunu was convicted of both.

Kamm and Vanunu both acted on moral and ideological grounds in a spirit of dissent from government policies of war and deceptions.

Kamm had been under house arrest for two years and faces 54 months behind prison bars.

Vanunu endured 18 years in a windowless tomb sized prison cell for exposing Israel‘s 7-story underground clandestine WMD facility in the Negev.

To this day, the Dimona nuclear plant uninspected by international inspectors and Vanunu remains captive in Tel Aviv.

On April 14, 2010, Vanunu wrote, The restrictions, not to leave the country for one more year renewed. Now 7 years since my release AFTER 18 YEARS in Israel PRISON. The Israel stupid spies will not get any thing from here. [5]

The media blackout over Vanunu’s historic freedom of speech trial and resultant 78 days of solitary confinement for speaking to foreign media in 2004 has continued, but on or before November 13th, the Israeli Supreme Court is to render its decision regarding:

Vanunu Mordechai asking ,CANCEL,Revoking my Citizenship-MAY 5-2011.


On October 10, 2011, Vanunu wrote: About Nov. 13th we don’t know what will happen. Because even if they will cancel my citizenship, it doesn’t mean they will send me free, they can still keep me here, but we believe this is the way out from Israel. If they will not cancel my Israel citizenship, then the court will decide to hear the case, and then the judges in the court hearing will decide if they will force the interior minister to follow his Israel laws, and cancel my citizenship. Any way they must let go free after 25 years. VMJC. vanunuvmjc

Brief Background on Vanunu:

In 1986, after being clubbed, drugged, bound and kidnapped by the Mossad in Rome then transported back to Israel for a closed-door trial.

Vanunu was also rendered defenseless when the court ruled that his motivations were not ideological and they refused to allow Vanunu’s own statements regarding his intentions to be considered in his defense.

In 1986, Nuclear Physicist, Frank Barnaby was employed by the London Sunday Times to interrogate Vanunu and review the 57 photos he had obtained at various restricted/top secret locations in the Dimona. Barnaby spent three days with Vanunu in London before he was lured and abducted by the Mossad from Rome. Barnaby attended Vanunu’s closed-door trial and was called by the defense to give expert testimony. Barnaby testified:

“I found the fact that Vanunu was able to smuggle a camera and films into and out of Dimona and photograph highly sensitive areas in the establishment astonishing I very vigorously cross-examined Vanunu, relentlessly asking the same questions in a number of different ways and at different times I found Vanunu very straightforward.

After questioning him about his motives for violating Israel’s secrecy laws he explained to me that he believed that both the Israeli and the world public had the right to know about the information he passed on. He seemed to me to be acting ideologically. Israel’s political leaders have, he said, consistently lied about Israel’s nuclear-weapons programme and he found this unacceptable in a democracy.

The knowledge that Vanunu had about Isreal’s nuclear weapons, about the operations at Dimona, and about security at Dimona could not be of any use to anyone today. He left Dimona in October 1985 and the design of today’s Israeli nuclear weapons will have been considerably changed since then Modern nuclear weapons bear little relationship to those of the mid-1980.”[6]

Blau could be charged with espionage. Vanunu was convicted of it.

In exchange for a promise protecting both him and his source from investigation, Blau returned 50 documents but authorities claimed he still held hundreds more classified documents. While on holiday a friend warned Blau that the Shin Bet had broken into his home and ransacked it. Blau later learned that the Israeli secret police had been monitoring his telephone, e-mail and computer for months.

On February 22, 2006, it was revealed in court that Israel had asked Microsoft to hand over all the details of Vanunu’s Hotmail account before a court order had been obtained.

Vanunu wrote, “Microsoft obeyed the orders and gave them all the details three months before I was arrested and my computers were confiscated it is strange to ask Microsoft to give this information before obtaining the court order to listen to my private conversations. It means they wanted to go through my emails in secret, or maybe, with the help of the secret services, the Shaback, Mossad.

Sfard [Vanunu’s attorney] proved that the police had misled the judges who gave the orders to arrest me: to search my room, to go through my email, to confiscate my computers and that they misled Microsoft to believe they are helping in a case of espionage.

The State came to the court with two special secret Government orders; Hisaion [documents or information that are deemed confidential by the government and kept from the court, the defendant, and lawyers.] This allows the prosecution to keep documents related to my court hearing secret. One was from the Minister for Interior Security and one from the Minister of Defense.”[7]

Vanunu’s secretly taped police interrogations, his 2004 Christmas Eve arrest for “attempting to leave the country” when he attempted to celebrate mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the confiscation of his private property by thirty IDF that stormed into his room at St. George’s Cathedral in 2004, Vanunu wrote had all “been done under the false and misleading statements to the courts of ‘suspicion of espionage’, and yet they are not charging me with spy crimes and the fact is that I have not committed any crimes.”[Ibid]

Legally Speaking:

Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights upholds that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention”, including abduction of a person by agents of one state to another state.

Section 99 of the Israeli Penal Code, treason is defined as “an act calculated to assist (an enemy) in time of war…delivering information with the intention that it fall into the hands of the enemy.”

Section 113 defines aggravated espionage as “deliver(ing) any secret information without being authorized to do so and with intent to impair the security of the state” and a sub-clause provides for a penalty of seven years for the unauthorized collection, preparation, recording or holding of secret information; if this is done with intent to impair the security of the state and then, the penalty is increased to 15 years.

We have a dangerous precedent here, whereby the handing over of material to an Israeli newspaper is seen by the prosecutor’s office as equivalent to contact with a foreign agent, said Eitan Lehman, Ms Kamm’s lawyer. The very notion of presenting information to the Israeli public alone is taken as an intention to hurt national security. [8]

After Kamm’s sentencing the state prosecutor Hadas Porrer-Gefni, told reporters the panel of three judges had given a strong message to young people on mandatory army service and that young people should be made aware of Kamm’s sentence before embarking on their mandatory IDF service. The judgement should be learned in every school and every basic training unit in the army, so that anyone who thinks he can take classified documents knows what punishment he will get. [9]

Blau published stories based on documents provided by Kamm.

The documents exposed how the army command approved policies that broke international law and violated the rulings of Israel‘s courts.

Blau’s reports revealed that senior commanders approved extra-judicial assassinations in the occupied territories that were almost certain to kill Palestinian bystanders and the army issued orders to execute wanted Palestinians even if they could be safely captured in violation of a commitment to the high court.

Blau also exposed that the defense ministry compiled a secret report showing that the great majority of settlements in the West Bank were illegal even under Israeli law.

B Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, said its research had shown that in many cases soldiers have been conducting themselves in the territories as if they were on a hit mission, as opposed to arrest operations.

The crimes of the state are blatant but it is the truth tellers who are convicted as enemies.

Journalists should be a thorn in the side of Governments and Institutions and expose hypocrisy in high places; and healthy democracies thrive on dissent.

In Israel, the SECURITY forces, IDF and Justice system have colluded to make freedom of conscience and freedom of the press just another word for nothing left to lose and until whistle blowers are respected as people acting on conscience for the greater good, doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, may just have to be good enough for all.

1. Timeline the Anat Kamm Affair

2. Anat Kamm gets 4.5 years for stealing military documents

3. AROUND 30 ISRAELI SOLDIERS TESTIFY ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES IN OPERATION CAST LEAD A NEW BOOKLET BY “BREAKING THE SILENCE”

4. Israeli Commander We Rewrote The Rules of War for Gaza

5. www.youtube.com/user/vanunuvmjc

6. www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/barnaby.pdf

7. BEYOND NUCLEAR:Mordechai Vanunu’s FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010

8. Mossad Operation Threatened Against Reporter

9. Comment: Kamm sentence a deterrent against leaks