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Daily Israel Report

B'tselem 'Human Rights' Cameraman Convicted for Rock-Throwing

Anti-IDF group accused of working with Arab cameraman who had a history of throwing rocks himself.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/23/2013, 3:30 PM

Rock thrower
Rock thrower
Flash 90

A young Arab who worked as a volunteer with B'tselem, a far-left group which claims to be a "human rights" organization, participated in a violent riot and tried to use his B'tselem equipment to persuade soldiers that he was just a cameraman, a report on the website Mida reveals.

According to the report, the incident occurred southwest of Hevron, on June 7 of this year. Ten or 15 Arab youths gathered and began throwing rocks at two IDF soldiers – First Sergeant Eldad Kedar and First Sergeant Avihu Abu – who were inside an abandoned house, from a distance of about 100 feet.

One of the Arab youths, in particular, drew the soldiers' attention, because he was wearing a pink shirt and a backpack.

After about an hour in which the Arabs threw rocks, a “chase unit” began pursuing the rock-throwers. Sgt. Abu, who was functioning as the lookout, noticed the youth with the pink shirt running to the left, then putting on a safety vest and taking out a B'tselem camera.

"I recognized him with 100% certainty,” Sgt. Abu said in court proceedings afterward. “He threw rocks, I saw him through the binoculars. I followed him specifically because he had veered away from the entire group. Commander Raz arrested him and handcuffed him and we took him to lockup in Hevron.”

The Arab youth told the soldier when he was arrested that he was just a cameraman for B'tselem and had nothing to do with the rock throwing.

According to the Mida report, the youth repeatedly claimed that he had only come to the location because “B'tselem told me there were human rights [violations] there.” At one point, however, he let out that “B'tselem know that I go there every week to throw rocks... to take pictures.”

The judge determined that the single slip by the youth would not have sufficed for convicting him, were it not for the fact that she also found the soldiers' testimonies “clear and coherent” while the youth's was “patently unclear... confused, full of contradictions and strange turns in almost every sentence...”

It also turned out during the trial that the youth had been convicted in March of 2012 of “intensive rock throwing at IDF forces.”

He was found guilty in the second case as well and sentenced to 6.5 months' imprisonment, 10 months' suspended sentence and a 2,000 shekel fine.

Mida says that B'tselem's “Armed with Cameras” project employs hundreds of volunteers who try to record the IDF behaving improperly, but does not carry out a background check to make sure they do not have criminal records. The website notes that it is clear that when a person who is an ideological enemy of Israel is used to document events, he cannot be expected to worry about the accuracy and fairness of the documentation.

“This situation is even more serious when the person in question has already thrown rocks at IDF soldiers and is sent by B'tselem to 'document' similar situations, in which it is reasonable to assume that he will return to his bad ways,” the website adds, leveling blame on the radical New Israel Fund as well, which it says gave B'tselem $250,000 last year alone.

B'tselem's reaction to the report claimed, among other things, that volunteers for the “Armed with Cameras” project sign an agreement and take part in workshops that make clear that if they break the law, act violently or throw rocks, their participation in the project will be terminated and they will not receive legal aid.

B'tselem said that the youth will not take part in any activity on B'tselem's part in the future.

The New Israel Fund's reaction was similar to that of B'tselem's and added that “The attempt to utilize one case in which a minor was convicted of an offense and will not go back to any activity on behalf of B'tselem, to besmirch the entire project and the New Israel Fund, is unnecessary and worthy of denunciation.”