Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers were accused of assaulting two Agence France-Presse (AFP) reporters and smashing their cameras. On Friday, the AFP reporters, Italian Andrea Bernardi and Palestinian photographer Abbas Momani were filming clashes between the IDF and Arab rioters in Beit Furik, at the funeral of Ahmed Khatatbeh, 26. Khatatbeh died of his wounds after being shot by soldiers near Nablus (Shechem) in Samaria after throwing a firebomb at an Israeli car, which subsequently flipped over.
AFP’s bureau chief, Thomas Cox, reported that IDF soldiers confronted the reporters who were both wearing body armor clearly identifying them as ‘Press’. The IDF soldiers swore at them in English and told them to stop recording. Bernardi was thrown to the ground and hit in the side with a weapon. He was then allegedly held on the ground, one knee pressing on his chest, until he showed his press card. Bernardi suffered bruised ribs and an injury under the eye.
The soldiers allegedly smashed a video camera and a camera for photographs, and took away another camera and a mobile phone.
AFP said it intends to file a formal complaint. Army spokesman Colonel Peter Lerner told the agency that “disciplinary measures will be taken.”
“The IDF is aware of the incident and is investigating,” the army’s Spokesman’s Unit told the Israeli media. “From the initial investigation it appears that the force did not operate as is expected of them, and [was] in contravention of regulations.”
In a similar incident on April 24, Momani and a Palestinian colleague had stones thrown at them by Israeli soldiers. A complaint was filed and the IDF said disciplinary action would be taken.