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Israel asks Spain to stop funding group that reported IDF ‘crimes’ in Gaza

Barak Ravid | Ha’aretz

02 August 2009

Israel on Thursday asked the government of Spain to halt its funding for the human rights group Breaking the Silence, which has been critical of the Israel Defense Forces’ conduct during January’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Similar requests have been made of Britain and The Netherlands.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials have said that at this stage the ministry has no intention to take action concerning other non-governmental organizations that receive funding from foreign governments. There is no intention, the ministry stressed, to act against organizations working for peace or coexistence.

During the past year, Spain has provided tens of thousands of euros to fund patrols run by Breaking the Silence in Hebron. In a meeting with the director of international cooperation at the Spanish Foreign Ministry, the Israeli deputy ambassador asked Spain to reexamine its funding for NGOs dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict; Israel noted this funding is disproportionate to that for human rights organizations in Arab countries.

The contacts in Spain are part of a wider Foreign Ministry effort over the past two weeks concerning Breaking the Silence following its publication of a report on Cast Lead. The ministry and the defense establishment were angered that the report was not given to the government or the IDF before its release.