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Three armed Palestinians who infiltrated Israel from Gaza caught on security camera footage lurking around Kibbutz Zeelim.(Photo by: ESHKOL REGIONAL COUNCIL)
Palestinians accuse IDF of using their security cameras against them
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
12/16/2018
IDF troops raided a number of buildings in Ramallah and its twin city of Al-Bireh and confiscated security camera footage.
Palestinian activists launched a campaign to prevent the IDF from using security camera footage to track down Palestinians who carry our attacks against Israelis. The activists believe that footage from surveillance cameras seized by the IDF helped reveal the identities of some of the Palestinians involved in the recent wave of terrorism in the West Bank.

Shortly after last week’s drive-by shooting attack outside Ofra, IDF troops raided a number of buildings in Ramallah and its twin city of Al-Bireh and confiscated security camera footage belonging to families and businesses, as well as Palestinian Authority public institutions.

Some activists said on Sunday that they don’t rule out the possibility that the footage confiscated by the IDF may have assisted in uncovering the identity of Saleh Barghouti, a resident of the village of Kobar near Ramallah, who was killed last week last by IDF soldiers. Israeli security sources have described the 29-year-old Barghouti as a member of the cell that carried out the shooting attack outside Ofra. Seven Israelis were wounded in the attack, including a pregnant woman and her husband. The woman’s prematurely born infant died three days later.

The activists also believe that security camera footage seized in Ramallah and Al-Bireh by the IDF helped locate the car that was used in the Ofra shooting attack. The car was found in the Ain al-Musbah neighborhood at the same time that Saleh Barghouti was shot and killed by IDF soldiers a few kilometres away near the village of Surda, north of Ramallah.

In the past few days, activists distributed leaflets in Ramallah and Al-Bireh calling on local residents to take precautionary measures to prevent the Israeli authorities from using security camera footage to identify Palestinians involved in “resistance” attacks against soldiers and settlers. “We call upon you to switch off the cameras installed at your homes and businesses, and to shift their direction away from the street,” the leaflets read.

“The purpose of the campaign is to warn our people about the dangers that these cameras pose to the lives of the resistance fighters,” explained one of the activists responsible for the campaign. “People should do everything they can to stop the Israeli army from using their cameras. The cameras have become the No. 1 enemy of the Palestinian resistance.”

The National and Islamic Forces in the Ramallah and Al-Bireh District, a coalition consisting of representatives of various Palestinian factions, on Sunday appealed to Palestinians to deal with security cameras “in a way that would protect” Palestinians involved in attacks against Israelis. The group said that the surveillance cameras should be used to film what happens only within the premises of a home or business, and not public places.

“The security cameras belonging to Palestinians helped the Israelis reach Saleh Barghouti,” claimed Mazen Shehadeh, another activist involved with the campaign. Israel, he said, knows that almost every family and business have security cameras, and that’s why the first thing the Israeli army does after an attack is to confiscate the footage. We know that in the past the Israeli army has used footage confiscated from Palestinians to identify and arrest of kill Palestinians.”

Emad Abu Awwad, a Palestinian expert on Israeli affairs, told the online newspaper of An-Najah University in Nablus that the Israeli security forces have managed to solve some of the attacks thanks to Palestinian security cameras. The cameras, he said, “have facilitated the mission of the Israeli authorities.” The low cost of surveillance cameras is one of the reasons why a growing number of Palestinians are purchasing them.”

Luay Zreikat, spokesman for the PA Police, said that the police can’t prevent people from installing security cameras. Only when there’s a complaint about intrusion of privacy does the police interfere, he added.
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