Ministers pass bill to criminalize filming of IDF clashes with Palestinians

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit opposed the bill, which passed Sunday, seeking to criminalize some of the activities of NGOs critical of Israeli policies in Judea and Samaria.

By: World Israel News Staff

Ministers passed a bill that prohibits video or audio documentation of IDF soldiers in action in Judea and Samaria, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has said the law is an infringement of freedom of expression.

The government’s Ministerial Legislative Committee radified the bill without changes knowing that Mandelblit was opposed.

Mandelblit’s deputy, Raz Nezri, argued before the committee that banning the filming or taping of IDF soldiers goes against protections of freedom of expression anchored in Israeli law.

The bill will now go to the Knesset plenum for a preliminary vote before being amended, according to a senior member of the coalition quoted by Ha’aretz.

Sweeping prohibition of all forms of video documentation will likely be the part of the bill amended, to be replace with a more narrow focus on activities that hurt IDF troops’ capabilities during active duty.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and other ministers who supported the legislation argued that IDF soldiers were intimidated by Palestinian activists or provoked by leftwing groups that support the Palestinians’ demand for a complete Israeli pullout from Judea and Samaria and other parts of Israel that came under Israeli control after the 1967 Six Day War.

Opponents to bill: IDF has nothing to hide

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow and IDF Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Noam Tibon have voiced opposition to the legislation, claiming that its passage give the false impression that Israel or the IDF have something to hide and are therefore banning documentation of IDF conduct.

If passed in its present form, the law would criminalize the promulgation of videos depicting IDF soldiers in action on in confrontation with Palestinians when the promulgater’s intent is to undermine or weaken “the spirit of IDF soldiers and the people of Israel.”

The maximum prison sentence that a perpetrator of the law would get is five years imprisonment.

Situations such as the case surrounding Elor Azaria were likely the impetus for the legislation. Azaria shot and killed a Palestinian terrorist who was lying on the ground in critical condition. It would not have become known if not for the fact that the incident was filmed. The shooting took place two years ago in Hebron.

B’Tselem, an NGO critical of Israel’s policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians, filmed the incident and made the video public on social media.

Azaria was sentenced to 18 months in prison for manslaughter. He served nine of the 18 months.

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