Soldiers acted against instructions Friday when they broke the cameras of two AFP reporters who had gone to the West Bank Palestinian village of Beit Faruk to film a demonstration, the IDF said.
On Saturday, the IDF said it was investigating the incident and that the commanders had been informed of the matter, but an initial inspection showed the soldiers acted inappropriately and “against the orders of their commanders,” and would face disciplinary measures.
MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) wrote a letter to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, demanding that he instruct the IDF to investigate the incident and make it clear that such behavior must change.
“It cannot be that IDF soldiers harm and attack members of the press,” Shai said. “The press’s job is to be everywhere all the time. It is an inseparable part of reality. Breaking cameras and violence teaches the journalists that the soldiers and their commanders do not understand the basic values of democracy and, first and foremost, freedom of expression.”
In a story it wrote about the incident, AFP said the IDF threw Italian video journalist Andrea Bernardi to the ground, jabbed him with a weapon and held him down until he produced a press card and that soldiers took away the camera of Palestinian photographer Abbas Momani.
Video captured from the incident showed two men wearing helmets and flack jackets marked press, and a soldier can be seen throwing one of their cameras to the ground and breaking it.
The two photographers then walk away, but a soldier runs after them, a jeep pulls up, and other soldiers come out. Again, the soldiers take one of their cameras and break it.
The Foreign Press Association issued a statement denouncing the conduct of the soldiers.
“Both journalists had received permission to operate in the area and were clearly identified, wearing flak jackets marked “PRESS.” Despite this, the IDF soldiers pointed their weapons at them, aggressively threw one to the ground, punched him in the ribs and held him pinned to the floor with a knee in the chest. Both had to be treated in [the] hospital. A video camera and a photo camera were destroyed and another photo camera seized, causing several thousand euros of damage,” it said.