By ROBERT MACKEY: The Lede, New York Times – 17 June 2011
While journalists have found themselves scouring the Internet in search of video from protests across the Middle East recently, one protest movement, by small groups of villagers opposed to Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank, has gotten far less attention.
Even so, there is no lack of footage of the weekly protests that my colleague Isabel Kershner described last year as a sort of slow-motion, “part-time intifada.” That’s true in part because an Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, has distributed video cameras to Palestinians to make sure the demonstrations do not go undocumented.
This week, B’Tselem released a video report made from footage shot by two Palestinian residents of the town of Nabi Saleh, outside Ramallah, showing, the rights group said, the use of “disproportionate force” by Israeli officers to disperse a protest there last month.
Yoav Gross, the director of B’Tselem’s video department, confirmed in an e-mail to The Lede that the Nabi Saleh residents who shot the video, Bilal Tamimi and Nariman Tamimi, had both been given cameras by the Israeli rights group. He added, “in addition to supplying us with footage documenting the demonstrations, they also distribute materials independently,” through Bilal Tamimi’s YouTube channel, which features extended clips of demonstrations in the village over the past year.
Sarit Michaeli, a spokesperson for B’Tselem, said that the footage of the incident last month was also used in news reports on Israeli television which questioned the use of force shown in the video. In response, a spokesperson for the Israeli Border Police called the video “one sided” because the Palestinians featured in it were “those who attacked the police officers and attempted to release an arrestee from detention.”
Ms. Michaeli said that the rights group took time to verify and cross-check the events shown in the video before issuing a formal demand for an investigation of the use of force by the officers.
More footage of the same demonstration was posted on YouTube by an Israeli video blogger, Israel Puterman, who frequently films West Bank demonstrations.
Nariman Tamimi’s husband, Bassem, is currently on trial in an Israeli military court for his role in organizing the weekly protests in Nabi Saleh.
The Palestinian activists have also used the cameras provided to them by the Israeli rights group to record what they describe as a broad effort by the Israeli security forces to quash their protest movement.
In January, the activists filmed these two clips during a night-time raid on the village, as Israeli soldiers went house to house to photograph children and young adults to help them identify anyone throwing stones during clashes.
A few days later, Nariman Tamimi filmed this video, showing the arrest of an 11-year-old boy, Kareem Tamimi, and his mother’s desperate attempts to pull him away from the security forces:
Just before that arrest, Bassem Tamimi, the protest organizer, claimed in an interview with Joseph Dana, an Israeli-American activist and blogger, that children in the village were being arrested as part of an effort to “apply pressure on our resistance.”