Last week, on 28 September 2021, dozens of Israeli settlers, some of them armed, attacked the Palestinian community of Khirbet al-Mufaqarah, which lies in the Masafer Yatta area (South Hebron Hills) in the West Bank, in one of the most severe settler attacks against Palestinians in recent years. At one point, three-year-old Muhammad Baker Mahmoud Hamamdeh was injured by a stone that hit him in the head. The incident was captured on video by B'Tselem volunteers and received wide media coverage.
Far-right Israeli media outlet HaKol HaYehudi quoted a military officer claiming that he had seen a young Palestinian setting fire to a structure and that the latter had tried to pin the arson on settlers. To support this version, several seconds of footage were sent to Channel 12 News reporter Ofer Hadad in which the officer is seen accusing Basel al-Adraa – an activist, journalist and volunteer with B'Tselem's camera project – of starting the fire, without presenting a shred of evidence.
Today, B'Tselem published new footage proving the allegations baseless:
In the new footage, a pile of dry branches is seen catching fire from a tear gas canister shot by soldiers, followed by attempts by soldiers and Palestinians to put it out. These are the minutes that preceded the seconds aired on Channel 12 News last night, which served reporter Ofer Hadad to accuse al-Adraa of trying to torch a house. The officer who made the false accusation was recently described by the IDF spokesperson as "not reflecting the conducted expected of him," given documentation of his behavior in recent weeks.
Basel al-Adraa responded: "The fake news is a desperate attempt to stop me from documenting, as I am the one who filmed the settler attack on Tuesday, in which 60 masked settlers beat up families, vandalized homes, and fractured the head of a three-year-old boy – backed up by soldiers. I don't create "false videos" to make settlers seem bad – they seem bad because they commit horrible crimes. Want me to stop? Stop the occupation."
Channel 12 News did not run a basic fact check before sharing the footage and the unfounded allegations against al-Adraa – nor was he asked to comment. Israeli soldiers, settlers, bureaucrats, government ministers and judges routinely mete out harsh violence against Palestinians. This time, they were joined by Apartheid’s Watchdogs in Channel 12 Newsroom.