Knesset gives preliminary OK to ‘Jenin, Jenin bill’
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Knesset gives preliminary OK to ‘Jenin, Jenin bill’

Legislation aims to ease process of initiating lawsuits against IDF defamers

Illustrative photo of IDF soldiers training (Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of IDF soldiers training (Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)

A majority of Knesset members on Wednesday approved a preliminary reading of a bill that would make it significantly easier to file civil lawsuits against a person or entity for defaming the IDF.

Currently, those who want to sue on behalf of the army must receive special approval from the attorney general. The new law would remove that impediment, essentially allowing individuals or soldiers to initiate lawsuits without government approval.

The bill, introduced by MK Yoni Chetboun of the right-wing Jewish Home party, was formulated in part as a response to Israeli-Arab director Mohammad Bakri’s 2002 documentary “Jenin, Jenin,” which falsely alleged the IDF carried out a massacre of civilians in the West Bank city during the Second Intifada.

The release of “Jenin, Jenin” prompted five IDF reservists to sue Bakri for defamation, arguing that they had been depicted as war criminals. The Supreme Court ultimately dismissed the case, although it ruled that the movie falsely accused and slandered the soldiers.

The bill still needs to be read by a separate Knesset committee, and then submitted again for final approval in the plenum, a months-long process.

Michal Shmulovich contributed to this report.

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