Classified documents reveal that the Israel Defense Forces had committed war crimes in the West Bank, Anat Kam, the former soldier indicted for espionage over an alleged theft of top secret material, told the court earlier in the year, according to police documents released allowed for publication Monday at the request of Haaretz.
In the newly released material documenting court hearings surrounding Kam’s arrest, the journalist and former IDF soldier said that the motivation behind her removal of sensitive military material was to expose “certain aspects of the IDF’s conduct in the West Bank that I thought were of interest to the public.”
Kam added that her thinking behind taking the top secret papers was to ensure that “if and when the war crime the IDF was and is committing in the West Bank would be investigated, then I would have evidence to present.”
Kam said that she didn’t think that transferring the documents would endanger the country, as she did not think “the journalist would focus on the details of the military actions, but rather on the principles and the policies that were behind the the top officers’ decisions.”
Kam also explained that she turned to Israeli journalists because she assumed that “the censorship would not allow the publication of information classified as top secret or that is dangerous for publication.”
Referring to the possibility that she would be penalized for the theft, Kam said that when she “burned the material [onto a CD] I thought that in the test of history, people who warned of war crimes were forgiven.”
“I didn’t have the chance to change some of the things that I found it important to change during my military service, and I thought that by exposing these [materials] I would make a change,” the former soldier said, adding that it was for those reasons that “it was important for me to bring the IDF’s policy to public knowledge.”
The state has decided to prosecute Kam for the most serious crimes of espionage: passing on classified information with the intent of harming state security, charges which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Kam faces other charges, including gathering and possessing classified materials with intent to harm state security, which carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence.
Presiding Judge Ze’ev Hammer wrote that “in order to inform the public of several aspects of IDF action in the West Bank, or to investigate war crimes in the West Bank, there is no need to gather and steal thousands of classified documents from the IDF which deal with the various military planning and action.”
“Kam admitted during her investigation that her computer is not guarded and that she did not take interest into where the Haaretz reporter Uri Blau would store the documents or who would have access to them,” Hammer added.
“She disrespected their [the document’s] safekeeping and the importance and secrecy of the information,” Hammer added.
Attorneys for Blau, Mibi Moser and Tal Leiblich said in response that “we consider this to be a positive development. Blau’s attorney’s will meet with Kam’s attorneys in the coming days in order to evaluate the offer and take a stance following consultations with Blau.”
On Sunday, Kam’s defense attorney Avigdor Feldman told Haaretz that his client would relinquish her journalistic immunity as the source of Haaretz reporter Uri Blau and that she was calling on him to return to Israel from London with all the documents she has given him.
Feldman said that “the message we relayed to him is for the sake of Anat he should come back to Israel.”
“We are working hard to convince Uri Blau through indirect ways to return to the country with the documents. I did not speak with him directly but we relayed a message to him. I think that he did not reveal the documents because he wants to protect her. Now she gave up her immunity as a source, and I am asking that he return, and his return, as far as I understand, will minimize the affair,” Feldman said.
“I do not think he will be tricked,” Feldman said. “I believe he will bring back the documents, he will not be harmed and the affair with Anat will also come to an end, I hope, quickly.”
This story "Anat Kam: I Stole IDF Documents To Expose War Crimes" was written by Ofra Edelman (Haaretz) and Haaretz Service.