Political repression against blogger in Israel

Fascinating and disturbing story by Haggai Matar in +972:

The Israeli blogger ”˜Eishton”˜ has been questioned by civilian and military police in an attempt to make him reveal a whistleblower who supplied him with unclassified military documents. His interrogation has attracted media attention to the anonymous blogger and his writing.

Eishton (a combination of the Hebrew words for “newspaper’ and “man”) was interrogated by police in an attempt to push him into giving up a source within the army or the Ministry of Defense, who helped him in his unique in-depth… threepartresearch… on army casualties.

Following the interrogation, Eishton published a warning on his blog, stating that he is not allowed to discuss details of the investigation, “the aim of which is to silence, hurt and extract private and protected information in an attempt to incriminate me and others.” The blogger also warns that should his site go offline, it is probably be because he was pressured to censor information or give up sources. In a recentFacebook… post Eishton also states that investigative authorities convinced the court to give them warrants to force internet companies to reveal his identity, and which have enabled invasive searches in his and his relatives’ homes.

The research at the heart of the investigation was published last April, around Israel’s Memorial Day, and focused both on the lack of information regarding the circumstances of soldier deaths, and on the disproportionally large numbers of soldier suicides, as compared with civilian suicides. Eishton found out that while politicians and journalists were mourning the loss of 126 soldiers who had officially “died while protecting their country” between April 2011-2012 – the number of soldiers who had actually been killed in combat that year was no more than three. What about the rest? Eleven are actually civilians killed in terrorist attacks; 35 did not even pass during that year, but were retroactively recognized as “fallen soldiers”; and all the rest died from various other reasons, ranging from disease, to car crashes, to the number one cause of death in the army – suicide. Thanks to his source in the army or Ministry of Defense, Eishton discovered exactly how many soldiers had committed suicide, and how this was generally hidden by authorities. It is this source, who helped expose the real numbers and causes of death, who authorities are now trying to hunt down – and who Eishton is determined to protect.

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One of the amazing things about this story is that no one, aside from the police, has any idea who Eishton is. In fact, I am the only journalist known to have ever interviewed him, and I too don’t know who he his. His posts reveal a person of left-wing politics, but who is highly critical of his own political camp, as well as of mainstream media, which he blames for many of society’s illnesses.

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