"Every picture tells a story; In the occupied territories, there's a new weapon: the video camera, detailing the violence meted out to Palestinians
September 10 2008
“It’s very easy for the Israeli public to believe that Palestinians are lying when it’s just their word against the word of a soldier or settler”, explained B’Tselem’s spokesperson, Sarit Michaeli. The Israeli human rights group has brought several high-profile cases to the public’s attention this summer, providing vital video evidence of the scale of the violence meted out by settlers and soldiers alike. In the process the footage has seriously dented efforts to smear Palestinians complaining of assault. According to Michaeli, “[The video evidence] makes it much easier for us to demonstrate the reality on the ground, and to show Israelis what is being done in their names in the occupied territories.”
B’Tselem’s Shooting back campaign has also compelled the security forces in the West Bank to carry out more thorough investigations. Michaeli adds:
It forces the police to do their duty: to investigate and bring to justice suspected attackers. However, a systemic change is still needed in the way the law is enforced in the occupied territories; at present the army are doing very well in terms of protecting settlers, but they are failing in their duty to protect Palestinians from attack.
The status quo is hardly surprising, given the crystal clear evidence of collusion between the settlers and the army, and the recent admission by senior West Bank police officers that they prefer to “turn a blind eye” to settler violence, rather than risk confrontations with fellow Israelis. On top of this, said Michaeli, there is the constant threat of retaliation against those wielding cameras on the Palestinian side.
“The Amira family [whose daughter filmed the harrowing scenes of a soldier shooting a blindfolded Palestinian man at point-blank range] suffered reprisals, partly as a result of the embarrassment caused to the Israeli security forces”, Michaeli noted. Salam Amira’s father was recently arrested in the village of Nil’in by soldiers who reportedly boasted “We caught Salam’s dad”: when he asked his captors for water, their response, allegedly, was “Eat your camera”. Michaeli also pointed to cases of settlers attacking Palestinians holding cameras, and of soldiers confiscating and destroying tapes.
On a visit last week to the village of T’uba, lunch with our Palestinian hosts was disrupted by reports of a confrontation between one of the sons of the family and a jeepful of IDF soldiers.--MORE--"
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