A controversial new bill set to go before Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation in the Knesset on Sunday would ban taking videos or photos of Israeli soldiers in the process of arresting or subduing Palestinians.
It’s a move that advocacy groups are decrying as an aggressive censorship measure aimed at banning the documentation Israeli soldiers’ human rights violations, especially as the U.N. Human Rights Council has opened a formal investigation into accusations that Israeli security forces recently gunned down scores of Palestinian civilians protesting along the Gaza-Israeli border fence.
The legislation, if passed, could result in a punishment of 5 to up to 10 years in prison for merely recording encounters between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians.
The bill reads, “anyone who shoots a video or a photo, or records soldiers while they are doing their job, with the aim of disturbing the morale of soldiers and citizens, will be sentenced to five years imprisonment. In case this is done with the aim of destabilizing the state’s security, the perpetrator will be sentenced to ten years imprisonment.”
Even so much as an individual sharing such content on social media could fall under purview of the proposed law, as Middle East Monitor reports, “the bill prohibits the sharing of photographs or recorded content on social media or in the media.”
The proposal originated via the right wing Yisrael Beiteinu bloc , significantly with support from the party’s leader Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The bloc chairman, MP Robert Ilatov, identified mostly left-wing groups responsible for hindering Israeli security efforts, notably among them BDS organizations (the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which seeks to halt West Bank settlement expansion by exerting economic pressure on Israel).
In comments carried by Middle East Monitor, MP Ilatov explained:
Israel has long been facing a disturbing phenomenon; that of the documentation of Israeli army soldiers, by video shooting or audio recordings by organizations that are hostile to Israel and supportive of the Palestinians,