Israeli bill seeks to ban photographing soldiers - Newswatch

Lester Mason
June 20, 2018

It will now go to parliament for a vote that could take place this week and if ratified, will be scrutinized and amended before three more parliamentary votes needed for it to pass into law.

Israel moved on Sunday to snap the lens shut on rights groups that film its troops' interactions with Palestinians by introducing a bill that would make it a criminal offense.

Israeli ministers voted on Sunday in favor of a bill to criminalize the filming and distribution of footages that put soldiers in the occupied West Bank in a negative light.

The initiator of the bill Robert Ilatov noted that the situation in which any activist leftist organizations, often receiving financial support from overseas, can freely document the actions of the soldiers during the execution of their duties, is absurd.

The bill refers to the "intent" of the person recording a soldier's actions being to injure their spirit or harm national security.

The bill appears to have been promoted by the filming of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria fatally shooting an incapacitated Palestinian attacker in the West Bank city of Hebron who was lying on the ground in March 2016.

Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter and given 18 months in prison.

Israeli Cabinet Ministers approved a bill that would make it a crime to film Israeli soldiers, particularly during clashes with Palestinians. On Wednesday the bill will be submitted to a vote in a preliminary reading.

Ilatov wrote on Facebook last week that the bill's aim is to prevent "left wing organizations from disseminating (soldiers') pictures for the sake of shaming them".

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the "Israel Our Home" party, welcomed the committee's decision. "Documenting the reality of the occupation will continue regardless of such ridiculous legislation efforts", the group's spokesman, Amit Gilutz, said.

Talia Sasson, president of the New Israel Fund, a liberal advocacy group that supports groups that document rights abuses in the West Bank, called the bill "an arrow shot into the heart of the state of Israel".

Israeli journalists also criticized the proposal, saying it would hinder their ability to work.

Palestinian journalists in May condemned the draft law, entitled "Prohibition against photographing and documenting IDF soldiers".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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