Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Head Of Anti-Occupation Group Breaking The Silence Detained In West Bank

(JTA) — The executive director of Breaking the Silence was detained by Israeli Border Police Friday along with two other activists.

The arrested activists — Avner Gvaryahu, the group’s executive director; Achiya Shatz, its communications director; and human rights attorney Michael Sfard — were detained next to a settlement outpost in the southern West Bank, near Hebron, according to Haaretz. They were released after three hours of questioning.

Breaking the Silence is a group of Israeli combat veterans who oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. The group is controversial in Israel, and Israel’s right-wing government has made efforts to limit its activity. Most recently, Israel passed a law barring activists from the group and others like it from entering schools.

The activists were in the West Bank, where Border Police detained the activists for illegally entering a closed military zone, but Haaretz reported that the area was closed specifically to prevent a Breaking the Silence tour there, and that settlers regularly enter such zones without facing arrest.

Left-wing activists from another group were allegedly attacked by settlers in the same area last week.

In a Facebook post, Breaking the Silence said the detentions were “directly connected to the settler violence we have experienced in recent months, and the total capitulation of [Israeli] security forces to that phenomenon.” The group added that the detentions “should concern any citizen who desires democracy in Israel.”

Liberal groups in Israel and abroad condemned the incident. Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund, which funds Breaking the Silence and a range of left-wing Israeli groups, criticized the Israeli government for “endangering the physical safety of citizens who stand up for human rights.” T’ruah, a liberal rabbinic human rights group that partners with Breaking the Silence, called for an investigation into the detentions.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.