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Palestinian journalists censure Israeli bill that bans filming soldiers

An Israeli soldier pulls an injured Palestinian demonstrator in the West Bank town of Birzeit, near Ramallah, March 12, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Palestinian journalists have condemned a controversial Israeli bill that criminalizes any photographing, recording or filming of the regime’s soldiers while on duty.

The draft law, entitled “Prohibition against photographing and documenting IDF soldiers,” was proposed last week by right-wing Israeli lawmaker Robert Ilatov.

Under the proposed legislation, those found photographing, recording or filming Israeli troops “with the intention of undermining the spirit” of the army “shall be liable to five years imprisonment” and those “intending to harm” Israel’s security could be given 10 years in jail.

The measure also prohibits the publication of photos or video content in the media or social networks.

The Palestinian Journalist Syndicate (PCJ) said in a statement that the “racist” bill “severely attacks the profession of the press and legitimizes the criminal practices committed by the Israeli occupation army against the Palestinian people.”

It also described the proposal as an attempt by the Tel Aviv regime to “escape punishment and international justice” and “grant legitimacy to the Israeli occupation to commit more crimes.”

“The core of the law is to mislead justice and provide a formal cover for further crimes,” the statement read.

It further urged the UN and other international institutions to “exert pressure on the occupying entity to comply with its laws in accordance with international laws and conventions, and to protect the freedom of press work and the role of fundamental journalists in uncovering and documenting the truth.”

Additionally, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), denounced the bill as “part of the deliberate escalation of Israel’s adoption and implementation of unlawful and unjust laws” aimed at prolonging the military occupation.

If passed, the law would constitute “a serious breach of the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” she added.

In recent months, Israeli troops have on numerous occasions been caught on camera brutally killing Palestinians, with the videos going viral online and sparking condemnations of the regime’s military.

In the course of weeks-long protests in Gaza, a video circulated online in April, showing the moment an Israeli sniper shoots an unarmed Palestinian protester near the border fence in the besieged enclave. The sniper and the other soldiers are heard rejoicing following the “successful” shooting.

On Sunday, Israeli forces shot and injured a deaf Palestinian woman in Jerusalem al-Quds over her alleged refusal to heed calls by cops to stop.

In March 2016, Israeli Sergeant Elor Azaria shot dead a Palestinian who was lying immobile on the ground, following an alleged stabbing attack in the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron).

Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter and given 18 months in prison. However, he was released earlier this month after serving only two-thirds of his sentence.

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