Right-wing activist arrested for punching Breaking the Silence guide in Hebron

Assault follows similar incident earlier this month; group’s director accuses government of inciting against activists

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Breaking the Silence co-founder Yehuda Shaul after being punched in the face by a right wing activist in Hebron on July 27, 2018. (Breaking the Silence)
Breaking the Silence co-founder Yehuda Shaul after being punched in the face by a right wing activist in Hebron on July 27, 2018. (Breaking the Silence)

Police arrested a right-wing activist on Friday after he assaulted a guide from the Breaking the Silence organization who was leading a tour in the flashpoint city of Hebron.

The suspect, a resident of Rosh Ha’ayin, punched a co-founder of the left-wing group, Yehuda Shaul, in the face. He was released later that day.

Breaking the Silence released a photo showing Shaul’s mouth and upper lip bloodied after the incident.

Breaking the Silence publishes testimony of former Israeli soldiers who report on alleged abuses by the IDF in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The organization has riled Israelis, and drawn ire from officials, who have challenged the authenticity of its mostly anonymous claims and lamented its advocacy work in the international community.

The left-wing NGO offers regular tours of Hebron, where several hundred Israeli settlers live in fortified compounds heavily guarded by the IDF in the midst of 200,000 Palestinian inhabitants whose movements are restricted.

Responding to Friday’s incident, Breaking the Silence director Avner Gvaryahu asserted that “the blood on the face of… Shaul was spilled by the Netanyahu government, which promotes legislation silencing Israelis and incites — at every opportunity — against those who are fighting the occupation.”

The assault followed a similar incident earlier this month, when a group of settlers disrupted a tour led by the group in Hebron, and hurled a can of paint at a tour guide.

The NGO said it filed a police complaint after the incident, which it said came on the heels of other disturbances by Jewish locals, who throw eggs, stones and dirt at Breaking the Silence staffers.

Earlier this month, the Knesset passed a controversial bill empowering the education minister to ban organizations critical of the Israeli military from entering schools.

Dubbed the Breaking the Silence Law, the measure will prevent high schools from hosting the NGO for presentations to students ahead of their enlistment in the IDF.

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