An anonymous blogger and whistleblower who is reportedly under investigation in Israel for publishing classified military information has volunteered to turn himself in if the Israeli Defense Forces will publish information it has withheld about the deaths of 126 soldiers.
The blogger is "Eishton," an activist citizen journalist who made the news earlier this year when he challenged the official account regarding the soldiers' deaths, claiming that suicide was the leading cause. Eishton relied on public documents as well as leaked documents from inside the army. A journalist for Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which also publishes in English online, defended Eishton's work as "serious and professional" although he is an amateur.
Two weeks ago, Eishton announced via his Facebook page that he was under official investigation by the Military Investigative Police and the Israel Police. Reactions mirrored the response to Wikileaks in the US, with some defending the freedom of information and others calling Eishton a threat to state security. Although the military knows Eishton's identity, it has not been revealed publicly yet.
Reactions mirrored the response to Wikileaks in the US
Eishton says he will confess to any charges and serve any punishment if the IDF publishes the names, causes of death, dates of the incidents, and promises to release all future lists, within 24 hours. "My word is my oath," he writes. The offer is mostly bluster, however. The IDF is unlikely to comply with the demands of an anonymous blogger, and Eishton hasn't even been charged with anything yet.
The whole saga started when the IDF announced in April that 126 soldiers had died in the previous year, implying that they had died in terrorist attacks or in service to the country. Eishton claims that most of the deaths were actually illnesses, suicides, or older deaths that had been retroactively added to the official tolls.
The IDF became fluent with social media earlier this year during its morbid blog fight with Hamas. But while the IDF was happy to tweet about rocket attacks in Gaza, its attitude toward transparency seems to stop at the battlefield.
Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to Haaretz as an English news source; in fact it is published in Hebrew and English.