In the aftermath of numerous tragic incidents in which Israeli human rights NGOs and Palestinian activists have documented the maiming and execution of Palestinian suspects by security forces, a ministerial committee has approved a new bill criminalising such filming. They did this despite the attorney-general criticising the bill for its extensive legal defects.
Notes accompanying the proposed law state that pro-Palestinian organisations have made a practice of documenting Israeli army soldiers, “waiting impatiently for activities that can be biased and tendentious – and through them [the soldiers] can be disgraced”.
Here is some more of the militaristic verbiage accompanying the proposed law: “Most of these organisations [have] a clear anti-Israeli agenda … It’s time to put an end to this absurdity … We have a responsibility to provide [Israeli] soldiers with optimal conditions for carrying out their duties, without having to worry about a leftist or organisation who might publish their picture to shame and disgrace them.”
Five-year prison sentence
Now, the measure goes to the full Knesset for passage. It appears to have massive support from the far-right government. If it becomes law in its current form, anyone who photographs or videotapes a soldier on active duty – no matter what they are doing – could face criminal prosecution and a five-year prison sentence.
The bill was proposed in the aftermath of the infamous incident in which Israeli soldier Elor Azaria executed a wounded Palestinian. By happenstance, a Palestinian who worked for the Israeli NGO B’Tselem filmed the incident, and the organisation released it to Israeli media, sparking a firestorm of protest – not so much for the murder, but because a Palestinian had the temerity to expose the misdeeds of an Israeli soldier.