Joseph Dana is an American-Israeli freelance journalist, filmmaker and photographer who has been relentlessly tracking settler violence, IDF misconduct and settlement expansion in the Occupied Territories. I’ve long considered Dana’s reports to be mandatory reading/viewing – and if you are at all concerned about the reality of life on the ground in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, then you should too.
His latest blog post includes footage (taken by fellow blogger/reporter Max Blumenthal) of a demonstration this past Friday in the West Bank village of Nabi Salih. During the action, two Israeli demonstrators, Matan Cohen and Yonatan Shapira were violently arrested by IDF soliders. Though the IDF later reported that the demonstrators attacked a soldier, the clip above clearly shows that this claim is a blatant lie.
This reportage is particularly essential not least because it documents the systematic policy of the IDF to violently repress growing acts of Palestinian civil disobedience – only to justify their actions later by claiming their soldiers were “under attack.” The flotilla tragedy is certainly the most well-known example of this tactic, but as Dana and other reporters are showing us, it actually occurring on a regular basis in the Occupied Territories.
Here’s Blumenthal’s description of what he actually witnessed at the July 2 demonstration:
On July 2, at the weekly demonstration in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, Israeli army troops violently arrested Israeli activists Yonatan Shapira and Matan Cohen. I witnessed the incident that led to the arrests and filmed them as they took place. As a group of soldiers pursued children up a small hill, then began firing teargas shells and percussion grenades at them, presumably in response to a few stones the children had thrown, Cohen and Shapira mocked the soldiers. “Shooting at children! You are so brave!” Cohen exclaimed.
Within a few seconds the commander of the IDF division (an oleh named Danny) charged Cohen and Shapira, then headlocked Cohen and dragged him into a jeep. When Shapira protested, he was thrown to the ground, violently subdued and dragged into a jeep. At no point did Cohen or Shapira attack any soldier.
The IDF Spokesman’s Unit issued a statement on Twitter claiming Cohen and Shapira — “two arrested rioters” — had “attacked an IDF soldier.” However, my footage of the incident completely discredits the IDF’s claim. As I said in the wake of the flotilla massacre, nothing the IDF Spokesman’s Office says can be trusted. Ever. The IDF’s intention is to smear human rights activists as violent terrorists while portraying itself as the blameless victim. Anyone who spends a day in Nabi Saleh or any Palestinian village engaged in popular protest against the occupation will see that the complete reverse is true.
BTW: you may remember that I reported on my meeting with Yonatan Shapira last May. He is a helicopter pilot and former officer in the Israeli Air Force who is now actively participating in Palestinian non-violent actions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. (I know Yonatan would be the first to say that it is the Palestinians themselves who are bearing the brunt of this oppression week after week in demonstrations such as this.)
Postscript 7/5: Max Blumenthal has now posted a more complete version of the clip, below: