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Israel government admits journalists beaten by soldiers were not ‘rioters’

Israeli soldiers verbally and physically abused Palestinian journalists and later claimed that they were 'rioters'

May 22, 2019 at 11:40 am

The Israeli government has retracted its claim that two journalists “led a riot” in Nabi Saleh in 2015, “and that their beating by soldiers was therefore justified”, reported Haaretz.

According to the article, “this is the gist of a compromise reached between the Jerusalem district attorney and the two photographers, Abbas Mumani and Haim Schwarczenberg”, who had sued the Israeli military over the assault.

While the plaintiffs have been awarded a fraction of the damages initially sought, “the significance of the compromise”, Haaretz reported, “lies in the state’s admission that its version of events, throughout the proceedings, was incorrect”.

The incident occurred on 24 April 2015, as Israeli occupation forces violently suppressed a Palestinian demonstration in Nabi Saleh, a village in the West Bank.

READ: 150 Israel violations against journalists in three months

Soldiers approached Schwarczenberg and Mumani and told them to leave, before kicking, shoving, beating, and verbally abusing the pair. One soldier even “threw a rock at Schwarczenberg, and ran at him and knocked him down”.

That same day, the Israeli army spokesperson claimed that soldiers had used “reasonable force” against the journalists. However, after viewing footage of the assault, the army described the forces’ conduct as “very serious” and “not in keeping with the commanders’ instructions”.

Subsequently, a deputy company commander “was sentenced in a disciplinary hearing to 14 days in military prison”, while the platoon commander was “confined to base for 30 days”.

However, in response to the lawsuit filed by the journalists in February 2016, the state attorney had alleged that “the plaintiffs acted in concert with the Palestinian rioters”, and were “an inseparable part of the serious rioting…and absolutely were not solely engaged in documenting the event”.