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Supreme Court rejects filmmaker’s appeal, upholds ban on ‘Jenin, Jenin’ screenings

Mohammad Bakri attends a Supreme Court hearing in Jerusalem about his film 'Jenin, Jenin,' on May 16, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Mohammad Bakri attends a Supreme Court hearing in Jerusalem about his film 'Jenin, Jenin,' on May 16, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

The Supreme Court rejects filmmaker Mohammad Bakri’s appeal, issuing a final ruling barring the controversial 2002 documentary “Jenin, Jenin” from being screened in Israel over a defamation lawsuit.

Lt. Col. (res.) Nissim Magnagi filed his suit against the filmmaker, Mohammad Bakri, in November 2016, demanding NIS 2.6 million (approximately $760,000) in damages and an end to the screening of the documentary.

Today’s ruling upholds a January 2021 decision by the Lod District Court, which ordered Bakri to pay Magnagi NIS 175,000 ($51,000) as well as NIS 50,000 ($14,600) in legal expenses.

The film falsely alleged that the Israel Defense Forces massacred civilians in the West Bank city of Jenin during the Operation Defensive Shield military campaign, at the height of the Second Intifada.

During the 11-day battle in the city in April 2002, 52 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces. Most of them — 27, according to Human Rights Watch; 48, according to the IDF — were combatants. Twenty-three Israeli soldiers were killed in the fighting.

Jenin was a central point in the training and dispatch of Palestinian suicide bombers in the Second Intifada, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis, and IDF troops had been deployed to the area to tackle what Israel described as the “infrastructure of terror” there.

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