IDF Probes Soldier's Alleged Attack on Haaretz Photographer in Hebron

IDF apologizes for assault in which photojournalist suffers light head injuries after being hit with rifle.

An Israel Defense Forces spokesman said late Saturday that the IDF is investigating an alleged attack on a Haaretz photojournalist on assignment in Hebron that occurred earlier in the day.

An IDF soldier on Saturday allegedly punched photographer Tess Scheflan and then struck her with his rifle butt. Scheflan suffered light head injuries. An ambulance took her to hospital.

The incident occurred when Scheflan and other journalists took a photograph of three IDF soldiers arresting a Palestinian. A soldier who saw them ran toward the group of journalists and demanded they hand over their cameras. After they refused, he tried to forcibly take the camera from another photographer. Scheflan photographed this, and the soldier then allegedly punched her in the face and hit her with the butt of his rifle while she was on the ground.

An IDF spokesman said Scheflan was examined at the scene by a medic but refused to be examined by an IDF doctor, and "refused to be taken in a military ambulance used by settlers. Eventually, she was taken by a Magen David Adom ambulance."

Later Saturday, the IDF issued a response apologizing for the assault and emphasizing that the soldier had acted inappropriately, even if an investigation finds he struck her after being attacked. The spokesman added that soldiers had noticed stickers of B'Tselem on the cameras, an organization that documents human rights violations. The IDF response went on to say that the initial investigation revealed conflicting versions of the events as recounted by the photographer and the soldiers at the scene.

An IDF colonel visited Scheflan at hospital to "ask how she was feeling and gather information about the incident."

"Violence in Hebron is not something that is unheard of," Scheflan said. "I've been doing this job for years and know how to behave in these situations. But I thought the soldier would at least have explained why we couldn't take photos."

Scheflan, who is a staffer for the Jini photo news agency, had been staying in Hebron over the weekend, alongside Haaretz reporter Fadi Eyadat and another photographer, to cover the Palestinian families whose homes had been temporarily commandeered by IDF soldiers during the eviction of settlers from a disputed home.