Ministerial Committee Approves Bill Against Documenting IDF Soldiers

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -
Israeli soldiers at the scene of a terror stabbing in Chevron on Purim 2016. IDF soldier Elor Azaria shot dead the wannabe stabber. (Wissam Hashlamon/Flash90)

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday a bill that forbids photographing IDF soldiers in the course of their duties, making it a criminal offense.

The proposal, which stipulates heavy prison sentences for those who violate the ban on documenting soldiers, was approved despite reservations of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

However, following pressure on the part of the attorney general, the committee decided that, after the approval of the bill in preliminary reading, the proposal would be changed and would come back to the ministerial committee for approval again.

The proposal will be softened so as to create a parallel between the offense of interfering with a policeman in the course of his duty and the disturbance of a soldier in the performance of his duty.

Rights groups frequently film IDF soldiers on duty in Yehudah and Shomron, documentation these organizations use to expose so-called abuse by the military.

A video filmed by left-wing group B’Tselem in 2016 showing a soldier, Elor Azaria, shoot dead an incapacitated Palestinian terrorist drew international condemnation and led to the his conviction for manslaughter in a highly divisive trial.

The proposed law, formulated by the Yisrael Beytenu party, would make 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 term would be raised to 10 years if the intention was to damage “national security.”

The bill will now go to the Knesset for a vote that could take place this week and if ratified, will be scrutinised and amended before three more parliamentary votes needed for it to pass into law.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman praise