The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) issued a report stating that an Israeli soldier assaulted one of its coordinators while filming Israeli settlers abusing Palestinian shepherds in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

“On Friday, 20 June 2008, around 6:20 P.M., Nasser a-Nawaj’ah, coordinator of B'Tselem’s “Shooting Back” project in the Southern Hebron Hills, filmed three settlers abusing Palestinian shepherds, shouting at them and pushing them and trying to scatter their flock”, B’Tselem reported.

B’Tselem stated that the attack took place near Susiya settlement. A- Nawaj’ah managed to film two Israeli military jeeps standing by without attempting to stop the assault.

 B’Tselem added that soldiers declared the area as a closed military zone and moved A- Nawaj’ah away from the area.

“He continued to film the incident from a distance. One of the soldiers followed him, cursed him, and threatened that he would come to his house later. The soldier continued even after A-Nawaj’ah explained that he was permitted by law to film” B’Tselem reported.

Later on A-Nawaj’ah tried to leave in his car but two army jeeps blocked his way, and three soldiers including an officer approached him. He filmed the soldiers as they were approaching his vehicle and one of them grabbed his camera and gave it to another soldier.

B’Tselem added that one of the soldiers removed the film from the camera while another soldier punched A-Nawaj’ah on the side of his head. Several minutes later, soldiers left the area and A-Nawaj’ah searched the area and found  the camera lying on the road behind his vehicle, but the film was missing.

 According to the report, B’Tselem reported the attack to the Civil Administration humanitarian hotline and the army initially denied that attack had taken place, but admitted later on that solders of the Poria reserve unit were involved in an encounter with a B’Tselem fieldworker.

The Israeli Military Police opened an investigation after B’Tselem demanded a probe.

 In its report, B’Tselem said that it demands that the three soldiers involved be punished and that the cassette, which shows soldiers taking no action while the Palestinian shepherds were being abused, be returned. 

B’Tselem also said that it will not stand idly by while the army acts in a violent manner against its workers and take its property. It added that the Israeli law allows video documentation of human rights violations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.