Bill would make it a crime to film Israeli soldiers at work


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Cabinet Ministers approved a bill that would make it a crime to film Israeli soldiers, particularly during clashes with Palestinians.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the bill, proposed by the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party, on Sunday. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit opposes the legislation, saying he cannot defend such a law. He also said that the Supreme Court would not uphold such a law.

The proposed law makes filming or publishing footage “with intent to harm the morale of Israel’s soldiers or its inhabitants” punishable by up to five years in prison. The prison term increases to 10 years if the intention was to damage “national security.”

It includes both traditional media and social media.

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The bill now goes to a preliminary reading in the Knesset, reportedly on Wednesday.

Following the reading, the language of the bill likely will be softened as a result of a compromise brokered on Sunday, in which the prohibition on filming soldiers will only apply to when there are active clashes going on and it obstructs his ability to do his job. The rewrite also likely will lessen the jail term to three years.

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter after he was filmed by a volunteer from the B’Tselem NGO shooting a downed Palestinian assailant in the head in Hebron.

B’Tselem said such a law would not stop it from documenting what it describes as abuse by Israeli soldiers.