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WATCH: Israeli soldiers attack Palestinian, foreign journalists

Soldiers destroy cameras belonging to Palestinian and Italian photographers in the West Bank town of Beit Furik. A firsthand account from the photojournalist who filmed the now-viral video.

By Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Israeli violations of Palestinian “freedom of press” in this country are not uncommon. In fact, the opposite is true. But what I witnessed yesterday in the West Bank town of Beit Furik was nothing short of shocking.

I was there covering the clashes that followed the funeral of Ahmad Khatatbeh’s funeral, 26, who died from his wounds after being shot by Israeli soldiers at the Beit Furik military checkpoint last Friday. While I was on air for the Beirut-based Al Quds television station, I noticed two journalists coming from the Israeli side of the checkpoint, where some soldiers tried to stop them.

Suddenly a soldier snatched a camera from one of the journalists’ hands, smashed it on the ground and threw it beside the road. The journalists tried to complain, but the soldiers pushed them back. I couldn’t actually comprehend what I was looking at. I immediately pressed the record button to start documenting; I was sad that I had missed the moment, but it was only the beginning.

While the journalists were on their way back toward the checkpoint, another soldier picked up the camera from the side of the road and smashed it in the middle of the street. Then another soldier decided to follow the journalists in order to confiscate more cameras and equipment from them. He was followed by more soldiers who came to the scene in their military jeep. One of the soldiers managed to snatch another camera and destroyed it immediately. More cameras and equipment were forcefully confiscated.

Several minutes later, one of the journalists tried to get close and collect some of his camera’s wreckage, At this point the soldiers jumped on him pushed him to the ground.

The two journalists were identified later as Andrea Bernardi, an Italian videographer working for AFP and Abbas Momani, a Palestinian photographer from the same organization. They reported that everything in their pockets had also confiscated, including batteries and memory cards.

My video of the unprovoked assault was rapidly distributed on social media websites. It is worth mentioning that my colleagues and I at our production company, PALMEDIA, were prevented from entering the village from its main road, so we took another, longer way. Another flying checkpoint popped up, where they checked our van and confiscated a gas mask for no apparent reason, saying that “if we enter the town, we will not be allowed to leave later.”

I was lucky to have documented the attack, while dozens of violations committed by Israeli forces against journalists take place every month. Several days earlier, a student was allegedly directly shot while filming a night raid in the university residence of the West Bank city of Nablus. A few months earlier, another popular video made the rounds on social media showed soldiers attacking journalists in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Moreover a colleagues of mine almost lost his eye in another unprovoked attack on journalists.

To be a journalist covering the Israeli occupation is often dangerous. But it is a commitment — a commitment to show the truth, or at least, what we think is the truth.

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    1. Jason Kidd

      Suppose you were a white person with a deep-seated dislike for black people, and you were intent on training your son to feel the same way. Suppose that, day after day, week after week, you instructed him to study the details of every instance of black-on-white crime. Say you advised your son to extrapolate from these incidents the notion that black people are generally dangerous, and that your zeal to present him with disturbing anecdotes along these lines never waned.
      You would be wrong, in just about every possible way: statistically, sociologically, morally. You would be doing your son a gross and damaging disservice. For yourself you would invite, and earn, broad contempt. If your opinions became publicly known, you might well find yourself unwelcome in polite company and your job at risk.
      Now supstitute Jews for Blacks and Arabs for Whites. This is exactly the mission of 972. All day, everyday.
      Shame on 972.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Jason Kidd

      Ahmad Al-Bazz, part of 972s extremist regime.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence have documented, thoroughly, that statistically, sociologically, morally, what Ahmad Al-Bazz reports here is the rule not the exception.

        Moreover, I’m noting a pattern here that we’ll continue to monitor. Every +972 author with an Arab name has of late been tagged by you as “extremist” and part of a “regime.” Is this “exactly the mission” of you? We’ll be observing.

        Reply to Comment
        • Jason Kidd

          Why are you writing like Yoda?

          Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          The words of Sawsan Khalife, Ben’s heroine, the one who is taking over from his other hero, Sheizaf…

          “SK: I think we can’t as Palestinians bid for statehood unless all Palestine is reunited. Maybe Palestinians can benefit from the bid. But the West Bank is not Palestine. I see the Galilee, al-Quds [Jerusalem], Haifa and Acre also as part of Palestine. We can ask for independence when we have reunited our land. After we have gained control over the air, the sea, the borders, we can be independent. I see the statehood bid as a bit of an illusion. Abu Mazen’s [Mahmoud Abbas’s] approach is not at the right time.”

          Yet Ben, doggedly maintains that his saintPalestinians are not out to try to destroy the Jewish majority state.

          Ben is a propagandist and a liar. He thinks that other people don’t notice his lies.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Yeah I know she’s Tokyo Rose and Noam’s Lord Haw Haw. Blah blah blah. You’re really on this “traitor” kick these days. Nursing that theme. The far right extremist is out of the closet. What’s there to discuss? As long as you refuse to give them a state with dignity you haven’t got a lot to complain about.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Nah, she is an Arab activist who by her own words aims to bring about the end of the Jewish majority state.

            But you digress because you refuse to admit that all she wants to do is what the rest of her kindred have been doing for the last 100 years, fight their war against the existence of the Jewish majority state. I will keep on rubbing it under your lying nose till you get the message and stop denying the undeniable.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Average American

      The point is what is being done by the soldiers. They could be black, white, orange, Martian.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Santiago

      So sad!

      Reply to Comment