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Israeli parliament proposes bill to ban photographing or recording soldiers on duty

May 25, 2018 1:48 P.M. (Updated: May 26, 2018 5:29 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, convened on Thursday to discuss a law that would prohibit the photographing or documenting od Israeli soldiers while on duty.

According to Israeli media, the bill was proposed with the support of right-wing Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Entitled “Prohibition against Photocopying and Documenting IDF Soldiers,” the bill sets severe penalties for those who violate the law.

"Anyone who filmed, photographed, and/or recorded soldiers in the course of their duties, with the intention of undermining the spirit of IDF soldiers and residents of Israel, shall be liable to five years imprisonment. Anyone intending to harm state security will be sentenced to ten years' imprisonment,” the bill stated.

The bill would also prohibit the distribution of photo or video content on social networks or in the media.

The bill’s initiator, MK Robert Ilatov, claimed that the bill was “in response to harassment by left-wing operatives of Israeli soldiers while dispersing violent demonstrations by Hamas on the Gaza Strip border.”

"For many years the State of Israel has witnessed a worrying phenomenon of documentation of Israeli soldiers. This is done through video, stills, and audio recordings by anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian organizations such as B'Tselem, Machsom Watch Women, Breaking the Silence, and various BDS organizations,” the bill's explanatory notes state.

"It's time to put an end to this absurdity. We have a responsibility to provide Israeli soldiers with optimal conditions for carrying out their duties, without having to worry about a leftist or organization who might publish their picture to shame and disgrace them,” Ilatov said.

As international criticisms around Israel’s human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory have increased in recent years, the Israeli government has responded by fast-tracking a series of right-wing policies that rights groups claim are aimed at weeding out any criticisms aimed at the Israeli state.
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