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WATCH: Israeli forces pepper-spray Palestinian journalists

Israeli security forces attack two Palestinian journalists covering a West Bank march commemorating the murder of Mohammad Abu Khdeir in the West Bank on Thursday. The incident follows numerous assaults on journalists in recent months, primarily Palestinians.

Israeli security forces attacked a demonstration commemorating Mohammed Abu Khdeir last Thursday, including pepper-spraying in the face two Palestinian journalists working for a Jordanian news station. Troops also used tear gas and stun grenades against participants in the demonstration, which took place near the settlement of Geva Benyamin in the central West Bank.

The two journalists, who were covering the event for Jordan’s Ro’ya TV, are wearing bullet-proof vests clearly marked as “press” in a video of the incident released by the network. Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers can be seen manhandling Nebal Farsakh, the station’s bureau chief for the Palestinian territories, and Mohamed Shousheh, her cameraman. After a brief scuffle Farsakh is seen running out of the fray screaming, her face covered in orange stains — a telltale sign of pepper spray. Shousheh is also seen with the same orange stains around his eyes, and is visibly distressed.

Israeli Border Police officers are also seen shouting at and pushing other journalists in the video, even though they are also clearly marked as members of the press. Maan News Agency reported that 11 people were injured during the demonstration.

Journalists and activists have reported numerous incidents of Israeli forces pepper-spraying non-violent demonstrators in the West Bank in recent months. The IDF is currently planning to distribute pepper spray to all non-combat soldiers, starting from 2016. Although considered a “non-lethal” weapon, pepper spray is a powerful inflammatory agent that can cause serious injury and even contribute to death.

Israeli troops detain a Palestinian journalist at a protest against the illegal settlement outpost of Adei Ad in the northern West Bank, December 10, 2014. The journalist was later released. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli troops detain a Palestinian journalist at a protest against the illegal settlement outpost of Adei Ad in the northern West Bank, December 10, 2014. The journalist was later released. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Attacks on journalists — particularly Palestinian journalists — have been a regular feature throughout 2015. At the end of April, an IDF officer was sentenced to two weeks in prison for assaulting Palestinian and Israeli photojournalists — an attack that was caught on camera.

In May, Israeli forces fired tear gas at Palestinian journalists marching in a World Press Freedom Day event in Bethlehem. Two weeks later Nidal Ashtiyeh, a photojournalist with Chinese news agency Xinhua, was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet.

In mid-June, Palestinian journalists covering clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Jalazon refugee camp were attacked by Israeli soldiers who threw stun grenades at them, cursed them and pointed their guns at them. This incident was also caught on video.

Israel’s position in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index fell five places in 2014. RSF cited attacks on Palestinian journalists, the killing of journalists during Operation Protective Edge and the government’s censorship during the war as reasons for the Israel’s lower ranking.

Asked to comment on the Ro’ya TV video, a Border Police spokesperson alleged that the video was mendaciously edited, that the demonstration was illegal and that officers used reasonable force in order to disperse it. The spokesperson did not acknowledge or explain the attack on the journalists.

Correction:
A previous version of this article mistakenly identified the two journalists as Jordanian. The two are in fact Palestinian journalists working for a Jordanian satellite news channel.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Electric Avenue

      Did they run out of skunk water? LOL

      Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      If you look at the ISM video of the event, you will notice that the Israeli police were moving the Palestinian protestors out of the roadway which they were blocking. Some Palestinians resisted being moved out of the roadway and scuffles broke out. The Jordanian journalists managed to get themselves onto the thick of the scuffle and got what they deserved for scuffling with the police. Many other police forces would not have been so generous with these protestors.

      See

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrpkJT31kuE

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Complete nonsense. You’re shameless. I watched the same video. Peaceful protesters were set upon by soldiers and journalists observing this were viciously attacked by the same soldiers.

        Reply to Comment
        • Hercules

          Getting hysterical and blurting out some angry words are not arguments. Pedro is correct and you are wrong, Brian alias “Ben” alias “E823” alias “MuslimJew” alias etc.

          Reply to Comment
        • Luc Longley

          Ben, you are completely wrong. I invite you to watch again. About one minute into the video, you see the woman in red yelling and giving out grumpy munchkins. It’s not until 30 seconds later when the man walks up, obviously irritated, and demands a blumpkin. Then all hell breaks out. Watching it within this context will help you understand this IMMENSELY.

          Reply to Comment
      • It is not absolutely clear in the video you provide, Pedro, but it seems as though the woman, seen to be a journalist through her earlier recording, intervenes when police begin to force people back to a railing, one protestor falling backward over it, after which the woman intervenes. She is then cornered bodily, running off screaming. The video you provide does not show her face with orange pepper spray, the side shot making it impossible to tell. But, if you include the video link Roth provides, it seems that she was indeed sprayed while bodily restrained against said railing. I suspect she was sprayed because she was standing up to the police, not because her behavior required that weapon for other reasons, such as directed violent acts, which she does not exhibit in the video before probable spraying.

        American police have done such things as well. But, as the Roth supplied video shows, an inordinate amount was sprayed directly into her face; generally the spray is a little more distant, of lesser volume. Beyond this, neither video shows this protest to be very dangerous at all–save that it is a protest by people waving Palestinian flags speaking Arabic.

        Label Pedro, you don’t have to justify every action by authority. The cop was out of line. He wanted her gone because she, partly because of her journalist position, refused to stand aside. Now, journalists really should stand aside to keep their immunity. But beyond that there is the cultural fact of an Arab woman placing herself between police pushing young men in such a way that they will fall head first over a railing, one already having done so. We don’t take kindly to you being uppity in these parts. A small event in a structurally impossible situation.

        Reply to Comment
        • Hercules

          Greg Pollock: “…but it seems as though the woman, seen to be a journalist through her earlier recording, INTERVENES when police begin to force people back to a railing, one protestor falling backward over it, after which the woman INTERVENES”. (capitalization added).

          Greg Pollock: “I suspect she was sprayed because she WAS STANDING UP TO THE POLICE, not because her behavior required that weapon for other reasons, such as directed violent acts, which she does not exhibit in the video before probable spraying”. (capitalization added).

          You contradict yourself in the same post. And for some reason known to you alone, you don’t have the moral strength in you to say the truth if the truth is on Israel’s side. You meander, wiggle and weasel around and in the end you end up talking wobbly, wobbly mumbo jumbo. Wobbly wobbly window dressers Pollock.

          Reply to Comment
          • Standing up to the police when they are using excessive violence is not identical to being violent at first blush. You begin with the assumption that whatever police do is inherently correct. This is not always true.

            I noted that a journalist who intervenes losing her immunity. The issue boils down to how she is treated. I noted that the tape linked by Roth shows an inordinate amount of orange pepper spray on her face; she was sprayed point blank, doing nothing to deserve it. Is she really so dangerous as to deserving being sprayed like that, a woman being bodily constrained by a larger man–with many other allied men present? Standing up to the police does not necessarily trigger pepper spray at that dosage. She didn’t deserve the spraying received. But it could as well happen in the US.

            There was no need for this act. She should have stayed in the background to preserve her long term supposed immunity as a journalist. But, I think we both know, that immunity is dubious in any case. For some reason, she couldn’t stand to see a protestor pushed by police until toppling over the guard rail.

            There is no content at all in your reply. Grow up demi-god.

            Reply to Comment
          • Hercules

            a) “I noted that a journalist who intervenes losing her immunity”.

            That’s a good start! Try obstructing cops on duty in the States and see what happens to you. besides, your journalist did not just “intervene”, she got physical with the soldiers!

            b) “The issue boils down to how she is treated. I noted that the tape linked by Roth shows an inordinate amount of orange pepper spray on her face; she was sprayed point blank, doing nothing to deserve it. Is she really so dangerous as to deserving being sprayed like that, a woman being bodily constrained by a larger man–with many other allied men present?

            See, right there you are doing your wobbly wobbly window-dressing again and contradicting yourself. First, on the one hand you admitted that “she intervened” and “stood up” against soldiers on official duty and was resisting, but on the other hand you claim that she “did nothing to deserve” being pepper sprayed. Second, you claim that the “tape shows an inordinate amount of orange pepper spray on her face”, but you have no idea what constitutes “inordinate amount” and on the basis of what. It seems that to YOU any amount is “inordinate” as long as it is sprayed by Israeli soldiers. Third, you ask rhetorically if “she is really so dangerous as to deserving being sprayed like that” which tells me that you have no idea what you are talking about. Pepper spray is indeed meant to be sprayed “point blank” for it to be effective and the ground for doing so is present the moment one refuses to follow police order. I am certain that you have read Ginger’s post below. I fact-checked it and bingo: the courts in the United States agree with her post!

            Sure, you are entitle to your opinion, but what you do in all cases is just silly window-dressing that points to a mindless, anti-intellectual ideologue who is stoically faithful to his emotions and sentiments and damns logic and reality! Go home, Greg. Ya need to get a life!

            Reply to Comment
    3. Ginger Eis

      The IDF Acted Correctly – in accordance with the law

      1. Here are the FACTS:

      a. The video clip embedded by Ms. Natasha Roth is clearly heavily edited. The ISM video clip posted by Pedro is from the same event and, although also heavily edited, contains more facts than the clip embedded by Ms. Roth. Based on, among others, both video clips the following the following emerge:

      b. The protesters, including the “journalists” were protesting in the middle of the road, blocking traffic and endangering the lives of motorists and others;

      c. The IDF-soldiers requested the protesters several to get out of traffic. The protesters refused the requests several times. Some of the protesters got physical with the soldiers.

      d. The IDF did what cops everywhere do: remove the protesters from traffic by force!

      2. Here is the Settled Law

      Courts have consistently ruled that using pepper spray is reasonable where the plaintiff was either resisting arrest or refusing police requests, for example, requests to enter a patrol car, go to the hospital, etc.

      3. Accordingly, IDF soldiers acted reasonably and proportionately in accordance with the law of Civilized Peoples.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Electric Avenue

      Friends, please read about the BDS movement and the violence it perpetuates to promote its agenda (sourced from Times of Israel). So much to be proud of; threatening children.

      “Irish Dance Festival in Israel Canceled After Palestinians Threaten Dancers, Teachers

      An Irish dance festival set to take place in Israel was cancelled.

      Organizers behind an Irish dance festival set to take place in Israel this August announced on Tuesday that they were canceling the event after both instructors and dancers received threats from a Palestinian solidarity group in Ireland.

      The “1st Israeli Feis” was being organized by the Carey Academy in Israel, a branch of the Carey Academy in Birmingham, England. The dance academy said on the event’s Facebook page that a group called Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) sent “threatening messages” to their teachers, parents and students. There was also a protest outside their dance studio.

      “We do not want to risk safety of anyone connected to the Carey Academy. The feis was not meant to be anything more than what it really is – a celebration of dancing, friendship and joy,” organizers wrote on Facebook. “We are sorry for any inconvenience caused to people who may have already booked tickets but I am sure you understand the safety of our dancers is our number one priority.”

      Sussex Friends of Israel, a U.K.-based pro-Israel group, responded to the announcement saying that the cancellation is “so sad and such a reflection of these times that a simple act of dance can be turned into such hate.”

      “We hope that someday soon you will be able to visit Israel, free of intimidation or aggression,” Sussex Friends of Israel said. “You will love it.”

      On its own social media page, the pro-Israel group described IPSC’s actions as “disgusting” adding, “The hate of the PSC attacking people because they wanted to dance, shame on the lot of them.”

      In June, organizers behind the dance festival said the feis was intended to celebrate Irish culture while dancing with people from different backgrounds, learning to respect one another and creating understanding rather than “drawing more lines in the sand.”

      Reply to Comment