The IDF is catching up with Palestinian propaganda about human rights abuses in counter-terror and riot control operations, using camera-wielding soldiers who record events as they happen and provide immediate documentation for their side of the story in media coverage, Globes reported on Monday.
There are now 24 combat soldiers who are tasked with “documenting operations,” after training in a special unit established by the IDF Spokesperson’s unit two years ago.
The IDF decided to forego one or two guns in the field, and to replace them with battle-adapted still or video cameras that will help combat the many false allegations of military misconduct that get attention in the media.
An incident last August provided vivid illustration of the effectiveness of the program.
First Sergeant Naor Blanco joined a nighttime operation to arrest a suspected terrorist in the Jenin refugee camp:
“Shortly after we went in, they started shooting at us from different directions,” he recounts. “We acted according to regulations, and our forces returned fire when they had identified the sources of the shooting. While advancing in one of the alleyways, a large brick hurtled towards me and fell a short distance from me. That whole time, I held the camera and documented the battle and the exchanges of fire. I turned towards the direction from which the brick was thrown at me, and I identified a terrorist standing on a nearby rooftop. He was about to throw another brick at me. I realized I was in a life-threatening situation.”
Blanco said he then put the camera away in his vest, raised his rifle and shot his assailant below the knee, putting him out of action.
The operation ended with the suspect killed and two Palestinians injured in the confrontation with IDF forces. But after they left Jenin, they heard that Palestinian sources were accusing the IDF of perpetrating crimes in the operation, and claiming that a 14-year-old had been injured.
Blanco’s material had already been through preliminary editing, the images were distributed to all the communications networks, and within a short time, the propaganda attack was neutralized.
“The visual material proved that it was a planned operation to capture a terrorist, and there was clear documentation of the fact that it was the terrorists who opened fire on us. The footage left no doubt that the forces that operated in the field acted with restraint, and the soldiers only fired when a life-threatening situation arose.” The footage included cries of “Kill the Jews,” which could be heard constantly in the background,” Blanco said.