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Call on Israel’s parliament to oppose the bill criminalizing the documentation of soldiers

Israel’s parliament is to consider a law banning the photographing or filming of soldiers. The proposed legislation is entitled the “Prohibition against photographing and documenting IDF Soldiers”.

“Anyone who filmed, photographed, and/or recorded soldiers in the course of their duties, with the intention of undermining the spirit of IDF soldiers and residents of Israel, shall be liable to five years imprisonment. Anyone intending to harm state security will be sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment”, says the bill, proposed by Robert Ilatov, a member of the Knesset and the chairman of the right-wing nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party.

On Sunday 17th June, the Israeli government endorsed the proposal, if the aim is “hurting a soldier’s spirit” or “harming national security.” The bill will now undergo four full rounds of votes in the parliament before it becomes a law. The first round was scheduled to be held on Wednesday.

This is a dangerous, totalitarian attempt to undermine scrutiny of the violations of international law carried out by Israeli forces. Haaretz has condemned the bill, saying its aim was to “to silence criticism of the army, and in particular to prevent human rights organisations from documenting the Israeli army’s actions in the territories. The immediate result of such a prohibition is serious harm to the possibility of protecting human rights and overseeing the army’s activity. The bill does serious harm to freedom of the press and the public’s right to know what the reality is and especially what the ‘people’s army; is doing in its name and on its behalf.”

Israeli forces have long been targeting journalists in Palestine, from directly shooting tear gas and bullets at press and human rights activists (including children) in the West Bank to the recent murders of Yasser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein during the ongoing Great Return March in Gaza. The number of journalists killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 2000 has reached 43.

Please join us in condemning the proposed bill and calling on the Knesset to oppose this law by signing the petition.

An Israeli soldier escorts a Palestinian journalist during a weekly demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian land by Israel in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near Nablus in the occupied West Bank, on May 11, 2018 (Getty)