A photograph depicting the chairman of an organization dedicated to bolstering Jewish presence in Jerusalem running over two Palestinian children who were hurling stones at him was chosen as the best photograph at the "Local Testimony" 2011 exhibition.
"Local Testimony" is a regional exhibition of photojournalism, running concurrently with the annual "World Press Photo" exhibition that features international press photographers. This year's exhibit is shown at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv.
The winning photo was shot for the French News Agency (AFP ) by Ilia Yefimovich, in October 2010 in Silwan, next to Jerusalem's Old City. The driver, David Be'eri, chairman of Elad Association, a group dedicated to strengthening Jewish settlement in the area, claimed after the photo was published that photographers were part of a Palestinian ambush and that the photo was actually staged.
Yefimovich vehemently denies these claims. "Who staged the photo? It can also be interpreted in defense of the driver. Who staged it? The children who felt like being run over that day?"
Yefimovich told Haaretz that he arrived with other photographers at the area because of the tension in Silwan after a local inhabitant was shot dead by a security guard.
"On the way there, stones were hurled at me as well," recalls Yefimovich, "little children throw stones in Silwan, that's the essence of the place."
The police later accepted Be'eri's explanation that he was in danger and had no intention of harming the children. The children weren't tried, because they were under the age of 12, the age of criminal responsibility, but a Silwan resident, Mohammad Sharfi who was present, was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment.