The IDF responded harshly to a video released by B’Tselem, an anti-Israel group posing as a humanitarian organization. The IDF claims the video, showing an officer responding to Arabs approaching a Jewish town, was an act of provocation staged by the group. The officer’s proud grandmother also slammed the group, praising her boy in no uncertain terms.
The video, published in March, shows three IDF soldiers from the Nahal Brigade, one a first lieutenant, protecting a dirt road that approaches the town of Yitzhar in Samaria. The lieutenant warns off the three Arabs, who are filming as they approach.
The Arab taunts the officer, saying, “Shoot me.”
The officer orders him to go home, clearly trying to avoid confrontation. The Arab responds, “I am home. What are you doing here?”
The officer continues to order him to go home but the Arab refuses, continuing to taunt the soldiers. Finally, the officer requests to see identification and the Arab refuses, saying that since he is a volunteer for B’Tselem, he is not required to show any identification to the authorities.
Finally, the Arab hands over his identification and the officer reports it via radio. The officer again orders the Arabs to leave, but they refuse. The officer reports via radio that he is going to arrest them, and receives confirmation from the command post. The officer orders his soldiers to stand ready and approaches the Arab, ordering him to sit on the ground. The Arab resists, threatening the soldiers by saying that they are being filmed and a scuffle ensues.
In the caption describing the video, B’Tselem claims that the soldiers used tear gas and rubber bullets, though this was neither seen or mentioned by the people in the video. The video was edited before publication.
B’Tselem is one of many foreign-funded non-governmental organizations (NGO) that pose as humanitarian organizations. Though B’Tselem claims to be humanitarian, it only reports alleged violations perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians and openly pursues a purely political anti-Israel agenda. It does not report violations perpetrated by the Palestinians or violations against Jews. Its methods, veracity, and the sources of its funding have been criticized by organizations that monitor NGO’s, and of interfering with security operations. In 2016, two Arab senior leaders of B’Tselem were arrested for helping the Palestinian Authority (PA) detain, torture, and potentially kill Palestinians for selling land to Israeli Jews.
B’Tselem publicized the video with the statement, “To the parents of the officer with the beauty mark above his upper lip, who served near the settlement of Yitzhar this February—If you wish to enjoy your heroic child’s deeds during operational activity, go to the Cinematheque in Tel Aviv. Your son will star there—cocking his weapon against civilians with the two other soldiers who are there with him.”
YNet news reported that the officer’s grandmother responded to B’Tselem’s criticism, saying that she was quite proud of her grandson.
“We all support him,” she said.” He is a wonderful man and an outstanding soldier, who took a stance exactly where he should have. I am proud of him, he did not deviate from his authority, he made the right judgment and acted rationally. He calmed the spirits … and did not act recklessly.”
“I never knew what position he was in, but when I saw him in the video, with all this equipment, I thought to myself, ‘Well done, these guys are there, guarding the place and defending the homeland without expressing a political opinion.’ B’Tselem may do whatever they want; we will not bother them, but when they enter areas that are not theirs, they will stand aside.”
On Wednesday, IDF spokesman Motti Almoz responded to B’Tselem’s claims.
“You continue to produce videos in the name of freedom of expression, even though the expression is out of touch with reality, and we will continue to protect the citizens of Israel. To all our slanderers, hello. We don’t always respond because sometimes all you seek is a free campaign and publication, even by provocation and belief that clips or statements are more important that everything, even more than the truth.”
“There is a fundamental difference between filming an incident while it is taking place and creating an incident by going to a specific place with a camera,” the statement continued. “Most of the time you choose the latter option and cause friction that did not exists beforehand. The officer that appears in the clip acted as expected with the full support of his commanders.”