IDF: Troops who attacked reporters will face discipline
Army says soldiers filmed smashing AFP journalists’ equipment contravened regulations, incident under investigation
The Israel Defense Forces said Saturday that the troops who assaulted two journalists from a foreign news agency in the West Bank a day earlier acted in an unauthorized manner and will face disciplinary measures.
“The IDF is aware of the incident and is investigating,” the army’s Spokesman’s Unit told the Israeli media. “From the initial investigation it appears that the force did not operate as is expected of them, and [was] in contravention of regulations.”
IDF troops seized and destroyed equipment belonging to two AFP journalists, in an incident caught on camera. A video journalist with the agency, Italian Andrea Bernardi, was thrown to the ground and jabbed in the side with a weapon, AFP said.
According to the agency, Bernardi was held down on the ground by a soldier, one knee on his chest, until he managed to show his press card. Bernardi suffered bruised ribs and a facial injury.
AFP said the soldiers pointed their weapons at Bernardi and his colleague, Palestinian photographer Abbas Momani. They also allegedly smashed a video camera and a camera for photographs and took away another camera and a mobile phone. Some of the incident is caught on the video.
At the time both journalists were wearing body armor clearly marked “Press,” AFP said.
The pair had been covering clashes between Palestinians and soldiers when some troops took them aside, swore at them in English and told them to stop recording events, AFP said.
AFP said it had protested to the Israeli military over the incident and said it intended to file an official complaint.
Army spokesman Colonel Peter Lerner told the agency that “disciplinary measures will be taken.”
“The highest levels of command are aware of the incident,” he said, specifying that this included the head of IDF troops in the West Bank.
In an incident on April 24, the Palestinian photographer manhandled Friday and a Palestinian colleague had stones thrown at them by Israeli soldiers, AFP said.
That incident was filmed, and the army announced that disciplinary action would be taken against the soldiers involved.
Friday’s clashes between Palestinians and troops at Beit Furik came after the funeral of Ahmed Khatatbeh, 26, who died of his wounds after being shot by soldiers near Nablus in the northern West Bank. The army said he and another man had thrown a petrol bomb at a vehicle on a road to the settlement of Itamar.