Israeli occupation forces on Saturday detained a stringer working for RT’s Redfish project as he was filming a Palestinian protest against the annexation of the Jordan Valley and released him only after taking his camera’s memory card, according to RT.
It added that it was the last shooting day for a small Redfish crew working on a documentary about Israel’s plans to annex some parts of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley. Producer Ahmad Al-Bazz and a cameramen stringer, Ameen Nayfeh, set out to the small village of Zubaidat to cover a small protest staged by locals opposing the annexation.
At first, it seemed that it was going to be a regular filming day. “When we arrived the Israel occupation forces were surrounding the village. We managed to enter and nobody stopped us,” Al-Bazz told RT. The forces took the journalists’ IDs and press cards but quickly returned the documents.
It was not a huge protest, yet, there were some tense moments,” Nayfeh said, adding that the Israeli occupation forces were “very aggressive.”
“They were pushing the people and were shouting and swearing,” he recalled, adding that the Israeli forces threw a stun grenade in a small crowd of demonstrators consisting of just between 50 and 70 people.
The crew had already stopped filming and were standing aside when they somehow drew the attention of the Israeli forces. “An officer came to us, he was pointing his finger at us and he was very violent in his body language,” Nayfeh said. The journalists sought to explain they were at the scene on official business but even a document confirming they were “a crew working for RT” apparently failed to persuade the officer.
“He ordered his soldiers to take me,” Nayfeh told RT. “I was surrounded by six or seven soldiers.”
They took the camera and I was afraid they would break it. They said I will come with them and I will ‘have a good time.’” The man was eventually released only after he agreed to hand over his camera’s memory card to the Israeli forces.
It is not the first such incident since the Israeli forces began cracking down on media working in the Palestinian territories. The Israelis have gone as far as to raid local TV and radio broadcasters over the past few years while accusing them of “inciting” violence. During one such raid in 2017, a local RT provider was shut down.
The latest example comes as Benjamin Netanyahu actively pushes for the annexation of the Jordan Valley as well as some other Palestinian territories in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Netanyahu has set July 1 as the starting date for cabinet discussions on the issue.
Yet, he apparently has some trouble getting approval for the plan from his allies in Washington and even his coalition partners at home.
Our reporter in the West Bank was detained by the IDF while working on a redfish report on illegal annexations. He was threatened with arrest and was only released after handing over the footage he filmed.— redfish (@redfishstream) June 12, 2020
We condemn this violation of press freedom by the Israeli authorities. pic.twitter.com/wIc6Zoy3nX