Outgoing chief military censor Sima Vaknin-Gil has accused Israel's most widely viewed television channel, Channel 2, and its diplomatic reporter, Udi Segal, of harming national security by divulging a top military secret during wartime. She also made similarly harsh accusations against ultra-leftist newspaper Haaretz.
In an interview published by media monitoring website The Seventh Eye Sunday as she prepared to end her term as censor, Vaknin-Gil cited two cases in which she filed criminal complaints against news media and expects to be able to prove her cases against them in court.
Vaknin-Gil said Segal reported live, during Operation Protective Edge, that the military top brass had showed ministers a presentation in which they estimated that hundreds of soldiers would be killed if the IDF launched an all-out offensive to topple Hamas. In addition, according to the presentation as cited by Segal, the peace accords with Egypt and Jordan would be endangered and the costs incurred would reach $10 billion annually.
The information was not presented to the censor before being broadcasted, accused Vaknin-Gil. She said that the report caused actual damage to the security of Israel and that she will be able to prove it in court.
The leaked presentation let Hamas know that Israel did not intend to crush it – and thus greatly reduced the pressure on it to reach any kind of ceasefire.
Another serious violation of censorship laws was committed by Haaretz, said Vaknin-Gil, when it made public that Israel and Iran had entered a secret process of international arbitration over the Trans-Israel Pipeline, which was a joint Iranian-Israeli project before the islamist revolution in Tehran in 1979. The story was exposed in the aftermath of the large oil spill from the pipeline last year.
Haaretz editor Aluf Benn told the Seventh Eye that the censor “continues to hide from the public the real discussion between Israel and Iran, and to cover for financial improprieties in the Trans-Israel Pipeline, using baseless excuses regarding security and threats of a criminal investigation against a journalist.”
A Channel 2 source told the Seventh Eye that “there is no doubt that the publication [regarding the IDF presentation] was of primary public importance. That is the main role of journalism, during wartime as well.”