Last night [Mon, 22 June 2009], B'Tselem won a prestigious British prize for its groundbreaking work in the field of citizen journalism. The One World Media award was given to the organization for its camera distribution project. This project provides video cameras to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, who use them to document human rights violations. B'Tselem then uses the footage to advance human rights and law enforcement in the region.
B'Tselem was awarded the prize in the “special award” category, given to an outstanding media project or organization working on the ground in the developing world, which has made a real impact on the lives of those living and working around them. Oren Yakobovich, head of B'Tselem's video department, and ‘Issa ‘Amro, the project's coordinator in Hebron, were presented the award in a ceremony held in London. The ceremony, attended by leading figures in the British media, will be broadcast next week on BBC World Television.
Over the past three years, project participants have filmed dozens of incidents of violence by settlers and soldiers, as well as documenting their daily lives under occupation. Video footage such as the beating of Palestinian shepherds by masked settlers in Khirbet Susiya, a settler firing from short-range and wounding Palestinians in Hebron, and soldiers harming Palestinians or refraining from enforcing the law on violent settlers were broadcast widely by Israeli and international media. B'Tselem also provides such footage to Israeli law-enforcement authorities. Some footage, such as the clip showing a female Israeli settler shouting “sharmuta" (whore) at a Palestinian woman in Hebron, has become part of Israeli lexicon. Recently, B'Tselem extended this project to the Gaza Strip as well.
This is the twenty-first year of the One World Media Awards, one of the foremost awards events in the UK. It rewards the most outstanding media coverage of the developing world, and recognizes the unique role of journalists and filmmakers in bridging the divide between different societies and raising awareness of vital development issues. The BBC, Channel Four (UK), Reuters, UNICEF, and the British Department for International Development are among the awards' sponsors.