Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A Palestinian is dragged away by Israeli border policemen during clashes outside the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem. (Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Israel's Solution to Global Condemnation of War Crimes? Punish Anyone Who Documents Them

"We reiterate our call to Israel's Parliament to oppose the bill, which would constitute a serious breach of press freedom," said the International Federation of Journalists

Jake Johnson

Israel's right-wing government has apparently decided that the best way to stop global criticism of its flagrant human rights violations against the Palestinian people is not to stop committing them, but to silence and punish anyone who attempts to document its crimes.

"If the government finds the occupation too embarrassing to even be visibly documented, it should work to bring it to an end—not go after photographers."
—Hagai El-Ad, B'Tselem

The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday approved legislation that would sentence anyone who attempts to film the actions of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers in the occupied West Bank to as much as five years in prison.

As Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy noted shortly after the measure was approved, the bill in its current form would target not just the press, but also "human rights organizations and Palestinian residents, the last witnesses for the prosecution against the occupation."

"We will violate this law proudly. We have an obligation to violate this law, like any law with a black flag waving over it," Levy declared. "We will not stop documenting. We will not stop photographing. We will not stop writing—with all our might. Human rights organizations will do the same too and like them, we hope, Palestinian eyewitnesses, who will of course be punished more than anyone."

While some changes to the specific language of the bill are expected after it was deemed constitutionally "problematic" by Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, advocacy groups said it is alarming that such an extreme measure has garnered significant support amoung Israeli lawmakers.

"If the government finds the occupation too embarrassing to even be visibly documented, it should work to bring it to an end—not go after photographers," Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, said in a statement.

As Haaretz reports, the version of the law approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation "calls for a five-year prison term for anyone filming or distributing footage on social media that documents confrontations between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians, with the intent to 'break the spirit of Israeli soldiers and inhabitants.'"

The lawmakers' push to criminalize the filming of soldiers who are enforcing the brutal and illegal occupation of Palestinian territory comes amid growing international condemnation of Israeli soldiers' massacre of over 100 peaceful protestors in Gaza over the past several weeks.

As Common Dreams reported, the United Nations has voted to both denounce Israel's "indiscriminate" violence against nonviolent demonstrators and dispatch war crimes investigators to Gaza.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Bloodbath': At Least 6 Dead, Dozens Wounded in Mass Shooting at Illinois July 4th Parade

"What freedom do we have if we fear being gunned down at a parade?" asked one progressive politician horrified by the reported carnage.

Brett Wilkins ·


On This July 4th, Abortion Rights Movement Says 'We're Not in the Mood for Fireworks'

"If we don’t have the ability to make decisions about if, when, and how to grow our families—we don't have freedom."

Brett Wilkins ·


Deadly Glacier Collapse in Italy 'Linked Directly to Climate Change'

At least seven people were killed when a glacier slid down a mountainside near a popular climbing route in the Alps on Sunday.

Julia Conley ·


'Organized Whitewash': US Claims Israeli Military's Murder of Journalist Not Intentional

"The odds that those responsible for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh will be held to account are all but nonexistent," said the human rights group B'Tselem in response to findings of U.S. State Department.

Brett Wilkins ·


Hundreds March in Akron Enraged by Police Killing of Jayland Walker

"The police can do whatever they want," said one local resident through tears. "They can take our children's lives and think it's okay."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo