A Camera Changes Reality

One video, even if blurred, transmits a direct experience that cannot be ignored. The video compels the observer to see the harsh reality in the Occupied Territories and opens a small window into the lives of Palestinians under occupation.

For more than 20 years, B'Tselem has published testimonies and comprehensive reports describing human rights violations in the Occupied Territories. Clearly, the effect and power of the written word in these publications is greatly enhanced when videos are attached. One video, even if blurred, transmits a direct experience that cannot be ignored. The video compels the observer to see the harsh reality in the Occupied Territories and opens a small window into the lives of Palestinians under occupation.

In 2005, B'Tselem established a video department in order to integrate film in the organization’s documentation of human rights violations in the Occupied Territories. The department produced short videos documenting events and posted the videos on its website. In 2007, B'Tselem launched its camera project, in which the organization distributes video cameras to Palestinians living in areas in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip where clashes between Israelis and Palestinians are common. The project is a form of “citizen journalism,” a phenomenon that has been growing around the world. By this means, B'Tselem seeks to aid Palestinians to bring the reality in which they live to the attention of the Israeli and international public, and to expose human rights violations and subsequently bring about improvement in the human rights situation there.

Video documentation soon became a central component of B'Tselem’s work. Footage of severe human rights violations filmed by project volunteers has been broadcast widely in Israel and abroad and has directed attention to phenomena that would probably have been overlooked were a camera not present. The footage also provides vital evidence in the context of complaints B'Tselem files with the authorities in its effort to ensure that human rights violators are held accountable for their actions.

As time passed, B'Tselem sought to find additional ways to bring the voice of Palestinians to the Israeli public, not only as victims of human rights violations, but also as persons whose complex perspective should be heard among the variety of voices sounded in Israel. Toward this end, in 2010, B'Tselem produced “Gaza– An Inside Look,” which offers different perspectives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip about their lives in the wake of Operation Cast Lead. In 2011, B'Tselem produced East Jerusalem – Six Voices” in cooperation with the British newspaper The Guardian. In this web documentary series, two Israelis and four Palestinians kept a video diary on their personal daily struggle in living inEast Jerusalem.

Video Archive

The Video Department has an extensive and unique video archive that is available to the public. The archive contains thousands of hours of raw material, testimonies, and footage from various places in the Occupied Territories, and is used by filmmakers, media people, academics, students, and any person who wants to learn the reality of life under occupation.

To arrange a visit to the archive, please contact Helen Yanovsky at helen@btselem.org

Please take a look at our archive regulations prior to yout visit!

TIME.com video with B'Tselem camera volunteers

NBC Nightly News about B'Tselem camera project

In January 2007, B'Tselem launched its camera distribution project, a video advocacy project. We provide Palestinians living in high-conflict areas with video cameras, with the goal of bringing the reality of their lives under occupation to the attention of the Israeli and international public.

B’Tselem and the Guardian gave six Palestinians and Israelis cameras to create video diaries of their lives in occupied East Jerusalem, under the shadow of the settlement enterprise.