Israeli Army Officers Punished for Attacking Photographers

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Soldier knocks over a photojournalist in Nabi Saleh, April 24, 2015.Credit: YouTube

Two Israel Defense Force officers who were captured on video assaulting press photographers at a demonstration last Friday in the Palestinian West Bank village of Nabi Saleh in the Ramallah area have been sentenced in disciplinary proceedings, in which footage from one of the news photographers was used. One of the officers was sent to military prison for 14 days while the other was confined to base for 30 days.

Footage of the incident was provided by photographer Miki Kratsman of the ActiveStills photography collaborative and published on the online “+972 Magazine” website on Friday. The video shows soldiers attacking the photographers and yelling at them to leave. One of the soldiers is seen forcefully pushing a photographer to the ground and then throwing stones.

Two photographers, one from ActiveStills and the other from the French news agency AFP, were injured in the incident.

After a brigade-level investigation, it became clear that the soldiers involved were officers – a deputy company commander in the Kfir Brigade who was the officer in charge in the field and a platoon commander in the brigade. The brigade commander, Col. Asher Ben-Lulu, decided that the two would face disciplinary proceedings, and the deputy company commander was sentenced to the jail time while his colleague was confined to base.

Two Palestinians and an IDF soldier were also lightly injured clashes in Nabi Saleh on Friday. One of the Palestinians was injured by a rubber bullet. The demonstrators claim that the other was wounded in the head by a 0.22 caliber bullet of a type that is considered relatively less destructive. The IDF contends that he was not injured by such a bullet, but was unable to say how the man was hurt. The IDF soldier was hit by stones hurled at him from a slingshot.

In response to the actions of the officers, the IDF spokesman said: “The conduct depicted in the video is serious and not in keeping with the directives from the commanders in the area. IDF directives allow free media coverage in the Central Command region in general and at demonstrations in particular.”

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