Press Tying IDF Hands?

The Times of Israel reports on a video released on the Internet showing IDF soldiers in the West Bank being forced to retreat under a hail of Palestinian rocks:

The troops, from a company of combat engineers, told Maariv that their hands were tied by superiors, leading to the muddled effort to contain the rioting crowd without provoking further violence. The film showed soldiers first charging toward dozens of Palestinians but then abruptly turning and fleeing under a hail of hurled stones. Three soldiers were injured, with one suffering a broken hand.

The soldiers speculated that the presence of a large number of press photographers in the area persuaded commanding officers to deny permission.

“There are always a lot of photographers there, but this time there were even more and apparently in order to prevent certain images they decided to endanger us instead,” a soldier said of his commanders in the Maariv report.

While Israel can be proud of the fact that the IDF does not resort to using live fire and lethal force against Palestinian demonstrators, it is disturbing to know that Israeli soldiers are placing their lives at risk because the presence of the press at the scene influences even the use of non-lethal measures to defend themselves and restore order.

And that’s without assessing just how much influence the presence of the cameras had on encouraging Palestinians to throw stones and attack the soldiers in the first place.

Addressing this very issue, photojournalist Ruben Salvadori, in a revealing video, blew the lid on the dynamics between photojournalists and Palestinian stone throwers at the scene and gave HonestReporting an exclusive interview back in October 2011. It’s well worth revisiting in light of this latest incident.