Judge orders probe over Palestinian cameraman hurt in Bil'in
Cameraman from the village was arrested for allegedly attacking troops, says Border Police beat him.
An Israel Defense Forces judge on Tuesday ordered the army to open an inquiry into the affair of a Palestinian cameraman wounded over the weekend after soldiers arrested him during a demonstration against the separation fence in the West Bank village of Bil'in.
Witnesses said that Border Police troops had beaten the cameraman, but the army says the man was hurt when a piece of communications equipment hit him in the back of the jeep he was being held in.
Photographer Imad Bornat, a resident of Bil'in, has been documenting the weekly protests in the village since they began around a year and a half ago.
Bornat works for Reuters, as well as for other photography agencies, and his work was featured in the movie "Bil'in Habibti," directed by Shai Pollack, which won an award for documentaries at the Jerusalem Film Festival.
Bornat was arrested Friday during a protest on suspicions of assaulting Border Police troops and hurling rocks at them. According to the troops' testimony in court, Bornat was holding his camera in one hand, while using the other to bombard soldiers with rocks.
Judge Shlomo Katz decided to free Bornat during a hearing over the affair, though his release has been postponed until the prosecution can decide whether to contest the ruling or indict Bornat.
Bornat's attorney has denied all charges waged against his client, and said the video footage the cameraman took will prove his innocence.
Katz said the cameraman still appeared to be injured during the hearing, five days after he was arrested, raising doubts regarding the authenticity of the troops' version of the events.
The judge added that the evidence presented to him does not clearly indicate how Bornat was injured, or how he could have been hurt by the radio equipment. Katz said he believes it necessary to conduct a more thorough probe into the matter.
Director Pollack and artist David Reeb are set to submit letter to Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Wednesday, signed by dozens of artists, journalists and cultural figureheads protesting Bornat's arrest.
"Bornat's video footage shows the arbitrary and routine violence committed by Border Police and the army against the protesters, and especially against the residents of the village of Bil'in," they wrote.
The letter further condemns the army, saying, "it is clear that the army and the police have an interest in preventing him from filming."