In false account, MK said IDF targeted elderly Palestinian

Breaking the Silence releases recording of testimony by Likud party’s Oren Hazan, who sought to discredit the group

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

MK Oren Hazan of the Likud in the Knesset plenum on March 29, 2015 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
MK Oren Hazan of the Likud in the Knesset plenum on March 29, 2015 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence has released a recording of Likud party MK Oren Hazan giving it false accounts of human rights abuses committed by IDF soldiers in the Gaza Strip.

The freshman MK apparently acted in the hope that the testimony, which he gave to the left-wing group before he was elected to Knesset, would be published, and would cast serious doubt on the NGO’s credibility.

In the recording, posted to the organization’s Hebrew-language Facebook page on Sunday, Hazan can be heard detailing several incidents he allegedly witnessed while serving as a reservist during Israel’s 50-day war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip last summer.

Presenting himself to the interviewer as Assaf Oren, the future lawmaker describes how an IDF sniper fired without hesitation at an unarmed, elderly Palestinian man who approached a row of houses. Oren says the man fell to the ground after the bullet passed by his head, narrowly missing him.

Hazan, who repeatedly addresses his Breaking the Silence interviewer as “bro,” goes on to chronicle his participation in violent raids on Palestinian homes, and describes how IDF soldiers would fire on goats owned by Palestinian farmers for no reason.

Toward the end of his account, Oren apologizes to the interviewer for not having a “sexier” story to tell, then assures him that “I will not lie… I just do not lie.”

Breaking The Silence, an organization dedicated to collecting testimonies from current and former IDF soldiers about their service in the West Bank and Gaza, said that a routine fact-checking procedure revealed numerous inconsistencies in Hazan’s account.

Given the problematic nature of the testimony, the NGO decided to not publish it.

An investigation by Channel 10 last week exposed Hazan as the one responsible for the fabricated account. He admitted he had provided false testimony to Breaking the Silence, but insisted that his made-up description had in fact been published.

“After the exposure of the affair, MK Hazan continues with his lies and says that we published the testimony, but lo and behold he cannot prove it… this is because we never released it,” a statement on Breaking The Silence’s Facebook page read.

“The many attempts by public bodies and individuals to discredit us and the soldiers of the IDF who testify before us will always fail, due to the fact that as part of the organization’s professional work, all accounts are carefully and rigorously examined in order to ensure reliability,” the statement read.

Hazan, 33, has already caused a stir over his previous occupation as manager of a casino on the Bulgarian Riviera. After being elected to Knesset, Hazan rebuffed criticism of his former job, saying it was entirely above board, and claimed he was the victim of unjust media prejudice. “I’m the second generation of media abused, just because I’m not a member of the [media] establishment,” Hazan, the son of disgraced Likud MK Yehiel Hazan, wrote on Facebook.

Yehiel Hazan was convicted of forgery, fraud and breach of trust after double-voting in the Knesset in 2003 and attempting to cover up the evidence. He was sentenced to four months of community service and a six-month suspended prison term.

Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.

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