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WATCH: Israeli officer attacks, throws stones at photojournalists

Video shows Israeli photojournalist and AFP photographer being attacked by Israeli soldiers at the weekly protest against the occupation in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. One Palestinian protester is reportedly shot with live fire.

Text by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man
Video by Miki Kratsman/Activestills.org

Israeli soldiers threw stones at and attacked Israeli and Palestinian photojournalists during a protest in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Friday, during which the army used live fire against protesters. One Palestinian was reportedly shot in the head.

Palestinians in Nabi Saleh hold weekly protests every Friday against the occupation and to demand access to the village’s spring, which was taken over by Israeli settlers.

In a video of the event, a soldier can be seen throwing a stone at Israeli photojournalist Haim Schwarczenberg and a Palestinian photographer who works for AFP as they attempt to comply with soldiers’ orders to leave the area. In 2011, Schwarczenberg photographed the close-range shooting of Mustafa Tamimi with a tear gas projectile fired from a military jeep in Nabi Saleh. Tamimi later died of his injuries.

As he walks away, an officer runs after him and pushes Schwarczenberg to the ground. When he gets up and moves further away from them, the officer throws another stone at Schwarczenberg and the AFP photographer.

Schwarczenberg told +972’s and its Hebrew site, Local Call, that he was standing on a hill photographing Palestinian stone throwers when his colleague, Abbas, told him to get close to the ground because soldiers were shooting live bullets at the stone throwers.

“One of the soldiers suddenly appeared from behind us and shouted, ‘get out of here before I shoot you’,” Schwarczenberg said. “Abbas and I got up to go but then the soldier shouted, ‘lay down!’, and pointed his weapon in our direction [at the stone thrower behind us].” The stone thrower escaped.

“At that point [the soldier] began pushing me and Abbas, another soldier joined him and threw a stone at us that didn’t hit me,” he continued. “Right after that he threw me and my cameras to the ground.”

A few minutes later the soldiers shot a Palestinian man in the head, Schwarczenberg said.

A medic treats a Palestinian man who was apparently shot in the head by IDF soldiers, Nabi Saleh, April 24, 2015. (Miki Kratsman/Activestills.org)

A medic treats a Palestinian man who was apparently shot in the head by IDF soldiers, Nabi Saleh, April 24, 2015. (Miki Kratsman/Activestills.org)

+972 contacted the IDF Spokesperson to get a response to the video and offered to send the army a copy of the video for review. The Spokesperson issued the following statement.

During “an illegal and violent riot that was held by some 70 Palestinians and the media,” the army used crowd dispersal means, the military spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that soldiers on the scene repeatedly told photographers who were in between the soldiers and stone throwers to distance themselves, and that when the photographers didn’t respond, that soldiers resorted to “reasonable force.”

“The IDF does everything in its power to ensure freedom of the press in [the West Bank] but will not allow violations of the law or for the press to harm IDF forces,” the spokesperson concluded.

In a subsequent statement, the spokesperson added that “the incident is being looked into.”

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    1. Menil

      What’s the point in publishing such a nonsensical IDF spokesperson response? It has nothing to do with the questions asked.

      Reply to Comment
      • The point is to document how IDF command (or at least communications) thinks. One must document absurdity to change things.

        Reply to Comment
    2. BJORN

      The usual PALLYWOOD propaganda, journalists together with “Palestinian” terrorist attacking soldiers with stones and provoking them, then waiting for the soldiers to react to make the pallywood film

      they photographers/pally stoners ratio is about 3/1 in most times

      go google pallywood to learn some more

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Even the IDF doesn’t agree with your very typical “Settler-wood” script.

        “An Israel Defense Forces spokesman told Haaretz that “the behavior seen in the video is reprehensible and isn’t in line with the guidelines issued by the commanders in the region. The IDF guidelines allow for free press coverage in the territory under control of the Central Command in general, and specifically during demonstrations. The matter will be investigated.” In 2012, an IDF officer was filmed throwing stones and firing at Palestinians in Nabi Saleh – contrary to regulations. He was relieved of his duties and was later charged with illegal use of a fire arm.”

        Reply to Comment
    3. Ben

      “No one ever envisioned the actual possibility that power would fall one day into the hands of people with the demeanor of masters, for whom the oppression of another nation was second nature. Who ever imagined that the Jewish community might one day turn into a colonialist entity and lay the foundations of an apartheid regime as a permanent condition, and would want to engrave that shame in its law books on top of that?” – Ze’ev Sterhell

      Reply to Comment
    4. Jack Holan

      I’ve seen exactly what the spokesman is talking about whereby rioters with media whom are complicit or media who don’t realize they are being outflanked and positioned as a shield between the rioters and the IDF. If the PA sits down to have a give & take negotiation between the 2 of us without running to third parties I’m sure the can be an agreement. Do you know the terms turned down offered by Barak and then Olmert? Foolish. All these decades you know this method hasn’t worked and has only caused death.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Average American

      Well, here we see The Only Democracy In The Middle East exercising freedom of the press. True, Israel is free to not include freedom of the press in its laws, but then it cannot call itself a democracy. And this little stumbling block of logic is neatly avoided and confused by Israel calling itself the democratic AND jewish state. Perfect wordcraft as we’ve come to expect from them. A little democracy here, a little jewish there. The video shows the jewish part. A country can do whatever it wants, just be up front about it, and don’t expect people’s help when we see what you are.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Dutch Oven

      Ben, your posting adds zero value. Why don’t you tell us you own thoughts? This is not a book report.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Ben


      “No discussion of Gaza is complete without mentioning the detrimental effects of the IDF’s ongoing policing activity in the West Bank on its combat professionalism. As after every war, Shelah says, “The IDF complains about the harm done to training in the years before the war due to budget problems. The commanders, fearful of entering a political minefield, conveniently ignore the fact that the protracted service in the West Bank has a far more deleterious effect on the forces’ capability.

      “After the Second Lebanon War, many field commanders admitted that they had a hard time transitioning from the mentality and methods of routine security in the territories to the type of combat called for in Lebanon. For the same reason, units sent into Gaza were also unprepared for the warfare they encountered. Commanders and troops have to learn as they go, with serious consequences, including casualties.”

      Reply to Comment
    8. Ben

      Nice analysis by Greg Pollock:

      “The two photojournalists are completely removed from whatever demonstration there might have been (in fact, there is not a single Palestinian demonstrator in any of the 180 degree angles of the video), and the final aggression, soldier chasing and pushing down a photojournalist already withdrawing, picking up rocks thereafter, is completely unwarranted. The IDF description of a “violent riot” has no support at all.

      The photojournalists must have positioned themselves between the demonstrators and soldiers. But the soldiers show absolutely no indication of personal worry, dodging nothing, not even looking much into the distance. Even if there are rocks being thrown, they certainly are not coming from the point blank area of the journalists. The action of the soldiers is without cause as far as the video shows, their own bodily reactions not suggestive of incoming threat. No “riot,” or worry over riot, is evident at all. The soldiers do not want documentation which will either be neutral or negative. So they release their adrenaline on the photojournalists, transformed into symbol for all journalists.”

      Reply to Comment