IDF defends soldier over B'Tselem video
In an unusual move, IDF responds to video recorded by the left-wing group, which appears to show a B’Tselem volunteer being arrested after approaching three soldiers, one of whom loads his gun, and refusing to follow orders given in Arabic to ‘go home’; IDF: ‘The soldier responded as expected...Your videos are out of touch with reality.’
“You continue to produce videos in the name of freedom of expression, even though the expression is out of touch with reality, and we will continue to protect the citizens of Israel,” wrote IDF spokesman Motti Almoz.
The incident took place three months ago next to the entrance of Yitzhar in the Samaria region of the West Bank, when three Palestinians approached the soldiers while one was carrying a camera.
In the clip, a cameraman closes in on the three Nahal brigade soldiers standing guard, prompting one of them to cock his gun—as is standard procedure in the IDF in the event that a suspect fails to heed several warnings to stop.
After being asked to leave and “go home” several times, the man—who says he is a B’Tselem volunteer—responds by saying “I am home. I’m on my land. You go.”
The video was not edited by Ynet and the recording provided by B'Tselem does not show the events that preceded the incident.
B’Tselem released the video accompanied by a sardonic statement addressed to the parents of the soldier who, after repeated warnings, both in Arabic and Hebrew, eventually arrested the man.
“To the parents of the officer with the beauty mark above his upper lip, who served near the settlement of Yitzhar this February—If you wish to enjoy your heroic child's deeds during operational activity, go to the Cinematheque in Tel Aviv. Your son will star there—cocking his weapon against civilians with the two other soldiers who are there with him,” the statement read.
“He fires instructions like a master in broken Arabic, reporting to his commanders on his walkie talkie about every action he takes: ‘I'm with three young men, one of them has a camera, not that it bothers me too much,’” the B’Tselem post states.
Following the posting, Almoz’s response matched the sarcastic tone of B’Tselem’s commentary. “To all our slanderers, hello. We don’t always respond because sometimes all you seek is a free campaign and publication, even by provocation and belief that clips or statements are more important that everything, even more than the truth,” Almoz said.
“Last week a video was propagated of an IDF officer during operations in the area of the Yithar community. IDF commanders and his soldiers are doing days and nights to defend Israeli civilians and will continue to do so.”
“There is a fundamental difference between filming an incident while it is taking place and creating an incident by going to a specific place with a camera,” the statement continued. “Most of the time you choose the latter option and cause friction that did not exists beforehand. The officer that appears in the clip acted as expected with the full support of his commanders.”
After saying in the statement that B’Tselem’s freedom of expression bears no connection with reality, Almoz added that the IDF would continue to protect Israeli civilians “without bringing the IDF into political arguments.”
According to an IDF investigation, the three Palestinians approached the soldiers and filmed the officer for 40 minutes at close range, all the while refusing to leave. The soldiers also said in the investigation that one of the Palestinians kicked the officer in the leg, after which he arrested him.
Responding to Almoz’s statement, B’Tselem released a rebuttal of its own to the claims that its activists deliberately go to areas to create friction. “Palestinians don’t go to points in the area with a camera, but rather live in them, on their soil,” the statement said.
“Unfortunately the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit’s status shows once again that the aim of the state is to advance a land grab and to advance the illegal settlement enterprise, while trampling on human rights of Palestinians using the army.
"The use of the army in the name of advancing a political agenda—dispossession and settlements—is the thing that brings the army into the political argument. An end of the occupation will end this.”