Two journalists from the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency were assaulted Friday by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank region.
The soldiers destroyed and seized the reporters’ equipment, and video journalist Andrea Bernardi was thrown to the ground and jabbed in the side by a weapon. He was held there, with a knee against his chest, until he managed to show his press card. Bernardi suffered bruised ribs and an injury under his eye, the agency reported.
“They had passed the first checkpoint of the border police with their press cards without problem. Andrea paused to check his camera settings and as he was doing so a soldier immediately arrived and told him to stop filming and pushed his camera. He then took the camera and smashed it,” AFP bureau chief Thomas Cox told the Guardian. “They thought these are crazy young soldiers so, as you see on the video, they left. But the soldiers came and at this moment took the stills camera and took everything in the photographer’s pocket -- batteries, memory cards. Andrea then came back to recover his destroyed camera. At this point a soldier jumped on him and put a pistol on his face and attacked him.”
Israeli soldiers leveled their weapons at Bernardi and his colleague, Palestinian photographer Abbas Momani, while the pair were in the West Bank region after the funeral of a Palestinian who was killed by Israeli soldiers.
Both journalists were reportedly wearing body armor marked “Press.” They were in the region covering ongoing clashes between Palestinians and soldiers when they were taken aside by Israeli troops and warned to stop recording events.
“It was crazy. When we arrived at the border police checkpoint we showed our documents. There was no problem. They were being nice,” Bernardi told the Guardian.
AFP condemned the incident and said they would file an official complaint with the military. "Disciplinary measures will be taken," Israeli army spokesman Colonel Peter Lerner told AFP.
Another Israeli army spokesman said that a preliminary investigation had been opened into the matter and had established that the soldiers involved had violated Israeli military conduct, and would face disciplinary action.