Video footage shows Israeli thugs assaulting journalists and destroying their equipment in the West Bank on Friday
A dramatic video has emerged showing Israeli soldiers make an unprovoked assault on two journalists working for Agence France-Presse during a demonstration on the West Bank.
According to AFP’s bureau chief, Thomas Cox, the two men – Andrea Bernardi, an Italian videographer working for the organisation, and Abbas Momani – had arrived in the village of Beit Furik near Nablus on Friday to cover a demonstration that followed the funeral of a Palestinian who had died after being shot by Israeli security forces a week ago.
The video – shot by a Palmedia camera crew from the demonstrators’ side – shows the two men walking down the road towards the protest before having their equipment seized and smashed. During the encounter, which is under investigation by the Israeli army, Bernardi was punched in the neck and face by a soldier.
“They had passed the first checkpoint of the border police with their press cards without problem. Andrea paused to check his camera settings and as he was doing so a soldier immediately arrived and told him to stop filming and pushed his camera. He then took the camera and smashed it.
“They thought these are crazy young soldiers so, as you see on the video, they left. But the soldiers came and at this moment took the stills camera and took everything in the photographer’s pocket – batteries, memory cards. Andrea then came back to recover his destroyed camera. At this point a soldier jumped on him and put a pistol on his face and attacked him.”
Bernardi said: “It was crazy. When we arrived at the border police checkpoint we showed our documents. There was no problem. They were being nice.
“We put on our [protective] vests and started walking towards the clashes. We passed the first line of soldiers loading teargas. I heard screaming and a soldier started pushing and shouting ‘what the fuck are you doing’ in English. I then released he was loading this gun and I thought ‘what the …’ and we started walking back.
“If we had done anything wrong they would have arrested us but you can see what happens in the video. After we got back to the car I saw a piece of the camera and wanted to take a picture of it because I was worried they would accuse me of doing something wrong. That’s when a soldier pointed a pistol in my face and pulled me down.”
AFP has protested to the Israeli military over the incident and said it intends to file an official complaint.
An Israeli army spokesman told the Guardian that a preliminary investigation had established that the soldiers involved in the assault had violated Israeli military rules of conduct permitting journalists to work and those involved would face disciplinary action.