Since its establishment B’Tselem has published testimonies, comprehensive reports and regular updates on human rights violations in the Occupied Territories. The impact and power of the written word are greatly amplified when coupled with visual documentation. Images provide a direct experience that cannot be ignored, compelling the viewer to face reality and see the violent routine of life under occupation.
In 2005, B’Tselem created a video department with a view to incorporating visual imagery into its work of documenting human rights abuses in the Occupied Territories. The department’s early work was producing and publishing short documentary videos. About two years later, we launched the B’Tselem Camera Project. B’Tselem provides video cameras and training to Palestinians living in the West Bank, helping them become citizen journalists. They document life under the occupation and human rights abuses and publicize this material, either through B’Tselem or independently. By participating in the project, B’Tselem volunteers acquire skills that contribute to their fight for their own human rights as well as those of their communities’ rights and allow them to document daily life under the occupation.
Since the Camera Project was launched, video documentation has become a staple of B’Tselem’s work. Thanks to footage shot by the project’s volunteers, serious human rights violations committed by Israel in the Occupied Territories have been widely covered by both local and international media. This, in turn, has helped bring to public attention – even if briefly – incidents that would not have gotten any coverage whatsoever if it were not for the presence of cameras.
In several cases, footage even played a role in the fight against the whitewashing policy practiced by civilian and military Israeli law enforcement agencies which, as a general rule, avoid taking any measures against security forces personnel or settlers who harm Palestinians. Thanks to the documentation, Israeli civilian and military law enforcement agencies simply could not deny what had happened and were forced to face the facts.
In 2009, B’Tselem’s Camera Project won the One World Media award for its ground-breaking work in citizen journalism. In 2012, the project was awarded first prize in the Freeform Documentary category of the Israeli Documentary Filmmakers Forum documentary film competition.
In 2009, B’Tselem began producing documentary and cinematic projects as well. In 2010, we produced Gaza – An Inside Look, a project in which Palestinians describe life in the Gaza Strip a year after Operation Cast Lead. In 2011, in partnership with The Guardian, B’Tselem produced Living in East Jerusalem. The interactive project showcased personal video diaries by two Israelis and four Palestinians about the daily struggles of living in East Jerusalem. In 2015, we produced Smile and the World Will Smile Back. The award-winning short film has been screened in many film festivals and was even nominated for the European Film Awards. In 2017, B’Tselem produced video diaries by two of B’Tselem’s women volunteers who live in the Jordan Valley (A Weekend Visit Home and A Dream that Will Never Come True). Our short film The Boy from H2 was also released in 2017. It premiered at the Berlinale, where it took part in the short film competition, and has since been screened in many other important international film festivals. In 2012, we launched the video blog My Own Private Gaza. Filmed by Khaled al-‘Azayzeh, B’Tselem’s field researcher in the southern Gaza Strip, it offers a glimpse of what it is like to live in Gaza.
Our video department maintains a rich and unique archive containing thousands of hours of raw footage, testimonies and photographic materials from throughout the Occupied Territories. The archival material is available to the public. It is used by filmmakers, journalists, academics, students and other individuals interested in learning about life under occupation. To visit the archive, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We recommend reading our visitor instructions before visiting.