Israel says no charges over video attack on rights groups

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli authorities said on Sunday they decided against opening a criminal investigation of an ultranationalist group behind a video that accused the heads of four of Israel's leading human rights organisations of being "foreign agents".

Activists had demanded the attorney general look into the 68-second video by Zionist group Im Tirtzu, saying it was incendiary.

But the Justice Ministry said no criminal investigation was warranted because the video did not call for violence. Its main message, the ministry said, was for Israelis to back a proposed law to restrict foreign funding to aid groups.

The clip - titled "The Foreign Agents - Revealed!" - is available on Facebook and YouTube ( and opens with dramatic, staged footage of an Arab-looking man drawing a knife on the street and moving to plunge it into a passerby.

The video then shows pictures of rights workers from B'Tselem, which monitors Israel's occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Breaking the Silence, which collects anonymous testimony from Israeli soldiers, and the Centre for the Defence of the Individual.

None of the groups were immediately available for comment.

The video accuses the groups' members of working to defend Palestinians over and above Israel, and says the Netherlands, Germany, Norway and the European Union, all of which fund Israeli NGOs, are complicit.

Its publication comes at a time of heightened tension within Israeli society, with right-wing groups accusing the government of being too soft on Palestinian violence and left-wing groups urging more restraint.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller)