Israeli officials 'colluding with far right' to target EU diplomats, leaked video suggests

A senior member of an Israeli ultranationalist organisation says people from 'government offices' leak confidential security information

Ultra-nationalist Israeli activist on camera: Authorities provide locations of diplomats

Ultra-nationalist Israeli activist on camera: Authorities provide locations of diplomats
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Israeli officials are helping far-right groups to target European diplomats in the occupied West Bank by providing details of their itinerary, according to recently leaked footage.

The video shows a senior member of Israeli ultra-nationalist organisation Im Tirtzu, which publicly harasses European officials in the West Bank, boasting that the information on where to locate diplomats has been provided by Israeli authorities.

The footage, obtained by The National, adds to growing concerns that Israel's emboldened far right is prepared to go to new lengths to slander, impede and even endanger the work of the international community in the occupied Palestinian territories. The US on Thursday imposed sanctions on four settlers after President Joe Biden issued an executive order against those who undermine “peace, stability and security” in the West Bank.

The video shows Im Tirtzu member Yonatan Shai saying "there are people who leak information from government offices, and they leaked this information to me”, as he was being confronted by an Israeli human rights activist.

Mr Shai goes on to describe the foreign officials, who represent many of Israel's closest allies, as "subversive, anti-Semitic, disgraceful diplomats, who you make a living off of".

European missions in recent months have been reassessing their safety in the West Bank because of Israeli hardliners.

Armed Im Tirtzu activists hounded European diplomats in a "wild west" chase across the territory in September, traumatising one official who told The National that the incident changed “the calculus and raised serious questions among western missions about their security in the West Bank”.

The missions said no help arrived from Israeli security forces at the time, despite repeated calls.

The National saw correspondence from one consulate complaining to Israeli officials about the absence of support.

Im Tirtzu intercepted the trip in the West Bank, but diplomats say an activist from the group was spotted earlier in the day outside the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem, where Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem was delivering a briefing before their departure.

The group's knowledge of their itinerary raised concerns that the details had been leaked by the Israeli authorities with whom foreign missions co-ordinate to ensure their security during visits to the West Bank.

The beginning of the new footage shows Nadav Weiman of Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence pressing Mr Shai about an allegation that someone from Im Tirtzu fired shots in the air while confronting the group of European officials during the same incident.

Mr Shai denies this, saying the shots were fired by a Palestinian policeman.

He also denies it when Mr Weiman asks him whether the group has a mole in the Israeli military, with whom foreign missions liaise to ensure security during diplomatic visits to the Palestinian territories, but goes on to admit that people from government offices leak information to him.

Neither Im Tirtzu nor the Israeli foreign ministry responded to requests for comment.

The footage has emerged amid widespread concern among Israel's allies that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right government is giving cover to settler violence in the occupied West Bank.

Mr Netanyahu's cabinet includes high-profile settlers who have publicly supported other settlers charged with violence against Palestinians.

The Israeli right frequently criticises the work of European countries in the Palestinian territories, which receive substantial amounts of foreign aid. Diplomats frequently travel to the territories to monitor alleged human rights abuses against Palestinians.

Their work has become harder since the Gaza war, which has plunged the Palestinian economy in the West Bank into crisis and sparked an increase in violence against Palestinians .

The National discovered in January that since the war began on October 7, Israeli settlers had destroyed property donated by European countries worth at least hundreds of thousands of euros, although the true figure is likely to be much higher.

Updated: February 02, 2024, 6:45 PM