A draft Israeli law that criminalized filming Israeli soldiers engaged in activities including confrontations with Palestinians passed its first reading in the Knesset on Wednesday.
The bill’s explanation stated:
“For many years already the state of Israel has witnessed the troubling phenomenon of the documenting IDF soldiers…by anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian group. […] The documentation (of soldiers) is biased and edited in a one-sided way with one purpose: To undermine the morale of IDF troops and residents of Israel”.
Israeli bill to ban filming #Israeli soldiers on duty..!#Palestinian journalists' union says bill against photographing Israeli soldiers on duty is an attempt to escape punishment.#ICC4Israel pic.twitter.com/GH0E2kbamO
— Shehab News (@ShehabAgencyEn) June 21, 2018
The bill was passed in its first reading by a 45-42 vote. Three readings are required to pass into law.
The draft legislation is sponsored by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party and was approved on Sunday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation – meaning it enjoys the backing of the coalition government.
— Palestine Chronicle (@PalestineChron) June 17, 2018
According to reports, the bill establishes penalties of up to five years in prison for anyone caught filming or publishing footage of military activities with the purpose of harming “soldiers’ spirit”, or morale.
So-called aggravating circumstances, such as publishing footage with the intention of “harming state security”, double the maximum jail time to 10 years.
Israeli Plan to Jail Anyone Filming Soldiers in the West Bank Hits Legal Wall. Attorney general says new legislation that outlaws documenting soldiers is unconstitutional; government to vote on bill anyway. https://t.co/Cvu1cYLB6K
— Dror Feiler (@DrorFeiler) June 17, 2018
Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, however, reportedly considers the legislation problematic, and it may undergo some changes before advancing to its final two readings.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)