Attack on RT journalist: ‘Israeli army respects nobody’

Screenshot from RT video
Harsh treatment of journalists and non-violent Palestinian protestors is the usual behavior of the Israeli army. They violate freedom of speech and journalists’ rights to cover events in Israel, said Mustafa Barghouti, Palestine National Initiative.

Israeli police have assaulted an RT Arabic crew while they were trying to film a controversial annual Israeli march through Jerusalem and its Muslim quarter. RT's correspondent Dalia Nammari had to broadcast via her mobile phone, after the crew's regular camera was damaged by Israeli police.

RT:Are you surprised by such treatment of a TV crew by the Israeli police?

READ MORE: RT crew attacked by Israeli police in Jerusalem (VIDEO)

Mustafa Barghouti: Not at all. This is a usual behavior for the Israeli army against journalists and against also peaceful, non-violent Palestinian demonstrators. They did the same thing two days ago when we were demonstrating in Ni’lin. They attacked us and they attacked the journalist in a vicious way. Let us also remember that during the last attack on Gaza less than a year ago the Israeli army killed 18 journalists, including an Italian journalist, in their attack on the Palestinian people. So this violation of the freedom of expression and violation of the rights of the journalists to cover what happens is frequently the behavior of the Israeli army which respects nobody. And let me remind you that they were celebrating the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, which is considered illegal by every international law.

Dalia Nammari, correspondent, RT Arabic: “There were clear orders for the police to evacuate the area of Palestinians who are residents of the city and, as it seems, journalists as well. We were pushed aside when we were trying to cover the arrest of some Palestinians by the police. A policeman came closer and broke a piece of the camera...”

RT:What was the reaction by the Israeli press then to such treatments over the last year or so?

MB: Unfortunately, we don’t see much protest against what the Israeli government, army, and police are doing against journalists. And more than that, there is very little information in the Western media about the violation of media rights. So many journalists have been killed or injured, but unfortunately this does not get the sufficient coverage, as if Israel is allowed to be above international law and allowed to have impunity to international law.

Dalia Nammari, correspondent, RT Arabic: “There were a lot of check points on our way to the site [Damascus Gate] and we were not allowed to enter through many points... When we reached a point closer to the site we managed to enter and when we were... near the Damascus Gate where the settlers were supposed to gather we were told to stay away from the center of the site. When we didn’t listen we were pushed away by the police ...”

But this is changing because more and more with the passage of time everyday people are realizing the actual behavior of the Israeli army, and how vicious, how unacceptable and how serious their violations of basic human rights are. I think the picture is changing gradually, but there is a lot of need to tell, especially the Western media, they should present the reality on the ground as it is and not exclude Israel from the criticism which is usually directed at anybody who violates the freedom of journalism and freedom of the press.

Dalia Nammari, correspondent, RT Arabic: “The camera man was also pushed when he was trying to film the police arresting Palestinians, who were not listening to the orders of the police to evacuate the area as it was clear that the police were trying to evacuate all Palestinians from that area to make space for the settlers’ march...”

RT:But it's not only journalists who've suffered from the heavy-handed tactics of the police. We remember a high-profile case when a US-Palestinian teenager, a cousin of a murdered Palestinian, was beaten by the Israeli police last year. Why are incidents like that able to happen?

Video: /files/opinionpost/3f/5c/50/00/boy-israel.mp4

Dalia Nammari, correspondent, RT Arabic: “I was on air ... a police woman came closer and blocked the camera from me. She was threatening if I didn’t move away they were going to use force. So they forced us to move away...”

MB: I think what you have here is a racist apartheid system, a system of occupation that has become the longest occupation in modern history, more than 48 years of occupation and a system of racial discrimination, which has lasted for the last 67 years. Unfortunately this behavior - occupation and the rise of apartheid - is hurting Israel itself. The moral values are declining and Israel is going backwards. Some of the behavior sometimes is very fascist against people who are non-violently protesting for their rights. So this is a degradation that is continuing. As long as there is an occupation, as long as a system of apartheid and segregation is allowed to continue, this would negatively affect everybody in this place, Palestinians and Israelis. That is why an end must be put to occupation and to the system of apartheid and segregation as soon as possible. But this would not happen unless there is sufficient international pressure on Israel, including the use of boycott and the divestment sanctions, as was done to the apartheid system in South Africa.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.