Sunday, February 28, 2010

Israeli Soldiers disturb and assault B'Tselem’s video photographers in the West Bank

Soldiers prevent filming:

"soldiers repeatedly prevent filming in the occupied territories."

28.2.10: Soldiers disturb and assault B'Tselem’s video photographers in the West Bank despite army’s declaration that filming is permitted

In early 2007, B'Tselem launched a camera distribution project in which it supplies video cameras to Palestinians living in areas in the Occupied Territories where confrontations commonly occur. The project’s objective is to aid Palestinians under occupation to bring the reality of their lives to the attention of the Israeli and international public, expose violation of their rights, and demand redress.

Since the project began, there have been many cases in which soldiers and officers prevented B'Tselem’s workers and volunteers from filming events in the Occupied Territories, even though there is no statutory prohibition on filming such events. In some cases, security forces used violence against the workers and volunteers, and there have also been instances in which soldiers confiscated the cameras. In their response to B'Tselem’s repeated complaints about these actions, army officials stated that there is no law prohibiting filming, including during operational activity, and that filming is forbidden only if its aim is to obtain confidential information or if it disturbs ongoing army activity. They also pointed out that the forces serving in the field have been given explicit directives regarding the matter.

Despite these clear statements, we find that, again and again, B'Tselem’s workers and volunteers are harmed while documenting human rights violations. This indicates a gap between the army’s official policy, which is presented to the world, and the actions of the forces in the field. It also shows that the army is not doing enough to explain to soldiers that it is forbidden to harm persons who are filming.

In recent months, B'Tselem has submitted several written complaints about soldiers harming persons filming on its behalf. As far as we know, no suitable measures have been taken against the soldiers. This policy transmits a message to soldiers in the field that if they assault photographers or damage their property, they will not be punished.
Documentation of events on video is one of B'Tselem’s principal tools in advancing the protection of human rights in the Occupied Territories. There is no substitute for visual documentation of an offense committed by security forces. Often, incidents occurring in the Occupied Territories are published in the broadcast media only if filmed material accompanies the report.

B'Tselem calls on the army to act in accordance with its statements and ensure that its declared policy is implemented in the field. The army must also take suitable measures against anyone who disturbs the photographers during the course of their work.

Palestine Video - A Palestine Vlog

No comments: