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Israel: Whistleblower Anat Kamm Jailed for Exposing IDF Assassinations

Anat Kamm is an Israeli journalist who was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for leaking thousands of classified military documents to Israeli Haaretz journalist Uri Blau. Information from the documents suggests that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) had defied a court ruling against assassinating wanted militants in the West Bank who could have potentially been arrested safely.

On December 4, 2008, Blau published a report based on these documents which stated that the IDF senior command planned and executed targeted killings of three people in violation of a 2006 ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court limiting the circumstances in which such a tactic could be used. I couldn't find a working link to the original article by Uri Blau, “License to Kill”, but here's a link to a blog post that reposted the original text.

Image by mish

Image by mish

Kamm is reported to have said during her interrogation: “There were some aspects of the IDF's operations procedures in the West Bank that I felt should be public knowledge… When I was burning the CDs I kept thinking that history tends to forgive people who expose war crimes.”

The Israeli police secured a gag order prohibiting Israeli media from reporting on Kamm's arrest. On February 6, 2010, Anat was convicted of espionage and providing confidential information without authorization and placed under house arrest. After almost two years under house arrest, on October 30, 2011, Kamm was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.

While this story is not new, the court decision on Kamm's sentence this week drew a wide array of Israeli netizen reactions. Noam Lester reposts thoughts [he] he published when the story was first publicized in 2010, protesting the lack of media focus on the reported IDF crime that surfaced from this leak:

We witness again the ritual of concealment, censorship, foreign publishing, leaks to blogs and finally a tiring day of non-stop blabbering media. Once again we sacrifice a victim in order to teach us all not to deal with the security forces, especially not to embarrass and show their wretchedness (and crimes). Everyone is focusing on the emissary (Anat) and not the news she surfaced: the IDF has committed crimes directly violating a court order from the Israeli Supreme Court. For this no one will be tried and certainly no one will sit in prison. But the one who exposed the atrocity – she can be presented as a traitor and sent for life imprisonment.

Anat Balint sarcastically writes:

The severe verdict of four and a half years in prison, given by the Tel-Aviv district court to Anat Kamm is a harsh blow to the 24-year-old whistleblower, and a calming pill to many of the public who followed the evolution of this story since April 2010. The process of turning Kamm to a modern-day witch who is threatening the existing social order has been completed successfully. She was caught, removed away from us, thank god, and now all can be sure that we've returned to believe in the holy values: there's nothing more important than the security of our country and its protection from enemies, there's no holier entity than the military, and there's nothing more severe than trying to hurt either of these.

She continues:

Every person whose part of the complex relationship between government entities, security forces and journalists in Israel understands the sheer irony wrapped in the Kamm affair. Leaks of the same sort are the bread and butter of these relationships, a daily affair. Messages that don't come out through the formal channels, or through an authorized interview, are in effect a type of “leak”, which is, according to the law, a crime. These leaks many times include confidential or top secret documents that somehow find their way to journalists and serve as a basis to their articles.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are many who believe that Kamm's sentence should be more severe. Moshe Goldbladt writes:

I hope that the State Attorney will not accept this absurd punishment that Anat Kamm received. In opposition to the judge ruling in the given verdict, the punishment reflects disrespect towards the state security.

Anat Kamm received the support of the left due to exposing “war crimes” – the claim is total babble – and glorified her for her motivation and ideology. When Kamm's lawyers saw that this heartens left wingers but doesn't help her, she started presenting herself as a young, confused girl who doesn't really understand the judges.

It is now time to stop playing hide-and-seek with Uri Blau and with Haaretz. The journalist, editor and everyone involved in receiving this classified material from Anat Kamm must stand before trial and pay a heavy price for their action. Also in this case we need to be talking about an active prison term for many years. Their claim for regularly having access to classified materials (as Raviv Druker suggests as a witness Kamm's trial) is exactly why they need to learn the consequences of breaking military field security laws in this country.

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