Israeli Court Rejects IDF Soldiers' Appeal Against 'Jenin, Jenin' Director

The soldiers, who fought in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, sued Mohammad Bakri for 2.5 million NIS for libel in 2007.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal filed by IDF soldiers against Mohammad Bakri for his 2002 documentary film about an IDF operation in the West Bank city of Jenin, which they claimed was slanderous against Israeli forces.

The court ruled that although the documentary does include many controversial statements, it is not considered libelous.

Mohammed Bakri
Tomer Appelbaum

The soldiers, who fought in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 and claimed that the film is full of lies, sued Bakri for NIS 2.5 million for libel in 2007.

In the court’s ruling, Judge Yoram Danziger explained that although the film does indeed cause a deep pain to Israeli society at large, and especially to the IDF soldiers that fought in Jenin, hurt feelings do not constitute libel.

Judge Yizhak Amit further argued that while the “lies spread” by the film are specifc rather than general, they do not refer to a particular soldier nor a specific IDF unit, and thus do not constitute libel.

Bakri’s film documents the battle in the Jenin refugee camp as part of the IDF's Operation Defense Shield, launched following a spate of bloody terror attacks that left dozens of Israelis dead. Palestinian officials initially claimed that hundreds of people in the refugee camp had been "massacred" by Israel, although it later emerged that more than half of the 55 Palestinians killed in the fighting were armed militants.