Contextual Content

Shooting back: 100 cameras film Israeli occupation

The Guardian: Shooting back: Israeli occupation filmed by 100 Palestinian cameras
In a graphic and hard-hitting film, Peter Beaumont speaks to Palestinians filming abuse from settlers and Israeli armed forces as part of a remarkable project called Shooting Back

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Story Transcript

WOMAN (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Whore… -You are! Whore… -You are!

BOY (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): I will exterminate you!

VOICEOVER: Video images shot by ordinary Palestinians on cameras supplied by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. They show abuse by the settlers and by the Israeli Defense Forces. They are intimately awful pictures that challenge how the world views the occupation. B’Tselem explains.

DIALA SHAMAS, B’TSELEM HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION: The project started mostly as a response to this need to gather evidence. It was more evidence-driven, that we were constantly filing complaints, and to no avail, because they’d always be dismissed on the basis of lack of evidence.

VOICEOVER: July 7, Ashraf Abu Rahma is arrested at a demonstration in the West Bank against the construction of the separation wall. What happens next is described by 17-year-old Salam Kanaan.

SALAAM KANAAN, FILMED THE EVENTS (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): It was Monday 7th of July, and there was a curfew imposed. There was a demonstration from the village of Ni’ilin. The Israelis wouldn’t let them come on to our street. Even all the press were not allowed to come in. The demonstration was coming down the hill. Among the demonstrators was Ashraf, from the neighbouring village of Bi’lin. The demonstration finally made its way down by twelve o’clock. At about twelve-thirty the IDF arrested Ashraf, blindfolded him and tied his hands behind his back. They left him on the ground in the sun for an hour and a half. Outside the front door. After a while, the commanding officer took him by the arm and took him to the pavement. I thought they were going to take him in their jeep and arrest him. The commander then grabbed him, and I felt he was going to do something. He pushed him and the other soldier was aiming his gun at his feet. I didn’t know where he was going to shoot. He shot him in the foot. I screamed and dropped the camera. I couldn’t take in what had just happened. I gave my brother the camera to continue filming. I was a little scared.

VOICEOVER: It’s three weeks after his shooting, and Ashraf is back demonstrating again. He’s blindfolded and bound, to protest at what’s happened to him.

DEMONSTRATORS: Where are our human rights? Come and look at their crimes!

ASHRAF ABU RAHMA (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): They handcuffed me and blindfolded me and made me sit in the sun for three hours. One of the commanders picked me up and was discussing with a soldier what to do with me. I heard them say in Hebrew "mattaat." I didn’t know what they meant.

WOMAN (OFF CAMERA): What I recall hearing was "rubber bullet, rubber bullet."

RAHMA: They shot me. I fell to the ground. They told me, "This is nothing. We’re going to do much worse to you." His last words to me were "We’re going to send you to Hell."

SHAMAS: [inaudible] realize immediate value of this footage. It started—perhaps this is an overstatement, but maybe it started bridging this gap between what’s happening in the occupied Palestinian territories and what the Israeli public can see. There is a sort of silence. It’s a conspiracy of silence around settler violence, especially, but also abuses by the IDF. And this footage is mostly shocking to Israelis, I think, and so it’s gotten a lot of media coverage that wasn’t expected. We didn’t give out a hundred video cameras to document rotten apples; it was just to show that there was something systematic happening and that it was almost structural to the occupation. And so far, most of the violence that we’ve filmed has been settler violence, of course with the complicity of the army and the police usually turning a blind eye. But in this case what was really remarkable was it was actually the soldiers themselves. And they did in fact open an investigation. They couldn’t ignore it. A lot of media coverage happened with the Susia incident, where four settlers attacked four Palestinian farmers with sticks. We’ve gotten a flood of requests for video cameras since then, and those who have cameras are filming them much more frequently.

VOICEOVER: Gas, stones, and gas again—another demonstration ends in violence in a struggle seemingly without end.

KANAAN: I was not expecting this to happen. They were surprised, and I was surprised by what I filmed. It’s very important. An incredible event that happened. I felt this was a very important event and had to be seen by all the media. A group of foreigners from the International Solidarity Movement were able to help me get this footage to B’Tselem.

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