Video: Soldiers assault journalists covering demonstration. Kafr Qadum, 17 August 2012
Update: On 13 September 2012 the Office of the Military Advocate for Operational Matters informed B'Tselem that it had instructed the MPIU to investigate the charges. In May 2013, the MAG Corps informed B'Tselem that the investigation of the case had not yet been completed.
On Friday, 17 August 2012, Udai Aqel, a resident of Kafr Qadum and a volunteer with the B’Tselem Camera Project, filmed the weekly demonstration protesting the closure of the road linking the village with Nablus.
During the demonstration on 17 August, Aqel filmed several journalists walking alongside a road in the village, holding cameras and wearing vests marked “PRESS.” The clip shows two military jeeps stopping alongside the journalists and soldiers getting out of the first jeep holding clubs and calling to the journalists to approach them. Aqel, ordered by the soldiers to sit and wait by the jeep, continues documenting the incident from there. Meantime, the soldiers converge on the journalists and assault them with the clubs. Two journalists require medical treatment, and camera equipment is damaged.
B’Tselem published the clip on the day of the incident and it was also broadcast in the media. The IDF spokesperson then told Haaretz that “the event is known by the IDF and is being investigated by the commanders. As a rule, the IDF respects and permits the free activities of journalists in the area in order to ensure ongoing freedom of the press even in areas possessing a confrontational character. On the face of it this appears to be an exceptional event and the investigation continues.”
Following the incident, the Foreign Press Association contacted the Prime Minister’s Office and the army demanding an immediate investigation of the incident, and on 3 September 2012, the media reported that the army had opened a Military Police Investigation Unit inquiry into the incident.
* in March 2012, Aqel documented a demonstration during which soldiers set a dog on a demonstrator. After B’Tselem broke that story, the army decided to stop using dogs to disperse demonstrations in the West Bank.