Breaking the Silence director announces her resignation
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Breaking the Silence director announces her resignation

Yuli Novak says NGOs like hers need to 'refresh themselves'; group has been target of legislation over past year

Yuli Novak of Breaking the Silence. (Channel 2 screenshot)
Yuli Novak of Breaking the Silence. (Channel 2 screenshot)

The head of a controversial NGO that documents alleged human rights abuses by the IDF in the West Bank announced she would be stepping down as the group’s leader Monday.

Yuli Novak, who has headed Breaking the Silence for the past five years, wrote in a Facebook post that she felt it was “the right time” for her departure.

She explained her decision to step down as director of the group as part of a need for “organizations involved in such an intense political struggle” to “refresh themselves.”

Novak also said Breaking the Silence will soon begin a months long search for her replacement.

A hearing takes place Petah Tikvah Magistrate's Court on May 22, 2016, over the demand for the Breaking the Silence NGO to reveal the identities of soldiers providing testimony of alleged abuses by the military. (Roy Alima/Flash90)
A hearing takes place Petah Tikvah Magistrate’s Court on May 22, 2016, over the demand for the Breaking the Silence NGO to reveal the identities of soldiers providing testimony of alleged abuses by the military. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

Founded in 2004 by a group of veteran Israeli army combatants, Breaking the Silence collects reports, usually anonymously, about alleged abuses by soldiers in the West Bank. It has often locked horns with the Israeli political and military brass and its critics have denounced its reports as dishonest, inaccurate, and part of an advocacy campaign intended to harm Israel’s image overseas.

Over the past year, a number of Israeli right-wing lawmakers have sought to advance legislation seemingly meant to curtail the group’s activities.

Last June, the Knesset approved the so-called “NGO Law,” obligating certain nonprofit groups — including Breaking the Silence — to declare all their foreign funding.

The law mandates that non-government organizations that receive more than half their funds from foreign governments or state agencies disclose that fact in any public reports, advocacy literature and interactions with government officials, or face a NIS 29,000 ($7,500) fine.

Students protest during a talk by the Breaking The Silence NGO at the Hebrew University, December 22, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Students protest during a talk by the Breaking The Silence NGO at the Hebrew University, December 22, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In January, a bill targeted at Breaking the Silence that seeks to ban all groups “that work to damage the IDF” from entering any academic institutions passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset.

Breaking the Silence also made waves earlier this month after Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced the city would evict an art gallery from a municipal owned building for hosting a lecture by the group.

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