Israel’s parliament last week considered a bill entitled "Prohibition against photographing and documenting IDF Soldiers” which sought to criminalise photographing Israel Defense Force soldiers on duty.
The bill was proposed by Robert Ilatov, chairman of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party. It entails that any “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”. This has received sharp criticism from within Israel and from Palestinian groups who view the move as an attack on the free press.
Mr Ilatov defended the bill asserting that "We have a responsibility to provide Israeli soldiers with optimal conditions for carrying out their duties, without having to worry about a leftist or organisation who might publish their picture to shame and disgrace them”.
However, the Haaretz viewed this as a manoeuvre “to silence criticism of the army, and in particular to prevent human rights organisations from documenting the Israeli army’s actions in the territories”, in their editorial on Sunday. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) similarly viewed the bill as a breach of free press and argued that “if IDF troops have nothing to hide, “there is no harm in documenting their actions against Palestinians”.
This follows Israel’s use of lethal force against Palestinian demonstrators which saw at least 119 people killed since the end of March.