Top court upholds ban on screening of documentary 'Jenin Jenin' in Israel

Justices reject film director’s appeal, say controversial movie riddled with false and misleading accounts regarding 2002 Battle of Jenin

Gilad Morag|
The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a ban on the screening of the 2002 documentary film "Jenin Jenin" in Israel.
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  • The judges rejected an appeal by the film's director Mohammad Bakri who filed the motion after the Central District Court in Lod last year banned the screening of the controversial film centered around the 2002 Battle of Jenin.
    2 View gallery
    דיון בבג"ץ על הסרט ג'נין ג'ינין
    דיון בבג"ץ על הסרט ג'נין ג'ינין
    Mohammed Bakri
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    The court also ordered to confiscate all copies of the film. However, the ban does not extend to Youtube.
    Bakri decried the decision, claiming it constitutes an abridgment of Palestinians' free speech.
    In 2002, five Israeli reservists who served in Jenin filed a defamation lawsuit against Bakri, claiming the film damaged their reputation. The judges rejected the soldiers' claims since they were not specifically mentioned in the film.
    In late 2016, Lt. Col. Nissim Magnagi, who took part in the fighting in Jenin, filed a second defamation suit against the director, claiming his portrayal in the film was false and misleading.
    Bakri claimed the film is a documentary in nature, as he simply took a camera crew into Jenin following the battle to film its toll on locals and record evidence of alleged war crimes.
    The district judge instructed Bakri to pay Magnagi NIS 175,000 ($50,000) in compensation and another NIS 50,000 ($14,500) in legal fees.
    2 View gallery
    Lt. Col. Nissim Magnagi
    Lt. Col. Nissim Magnagi
    Lt. Col. Nissim Magnagi
    (Photo: Moti Kimhi)
    Bakri claimed the decision was moot since the battle itself took place two decades ago and its prescriptive period has expired.
    However, Supreme Court justices maintained that Bakri's responsibility subsists since the film was publicly screened four times between 2010 and 2012, well within the statute of limitations.
    Justices added the film is riddled with misrepresentations and false accounts, and that Bakri sought to concoct a specific narrative. In one scene of the movie, a photo of Magnagi was inserted right as an Israeli soldier was supposedly looting Palestinian citizens at gunpoint.
    The court failed to establish a connection between Bakri and an upload of the film to video sharing site YouTube and it remains available online.
    Adv. Navot Tel-Tzur, who co-represented Magnagi in court, said: "We're satisfied with the court's verdict. It does justice to the soldiers who participated in Operation Defensive Shield and their families."
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