Israeli soldiers go on rampage, assault two cameramen

Israeli soldiers

Israeli soldiers punched two Reuters cameramen and forced them to strip in the street, before letting off a tear gas canister in front of them, leaving one of them needing hospital treatment. Israel's military said on Thursday it took the allegations seriously, but offered no explanation for the assault that occurred on Wednesday evening in the heart of Hebron.

"The regional brigade commander was ordered to open an investigation," Israeli Defense Forces spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said in an email. No further information will be provided until the investigation is complete.

Yousri Al Jamal and Ma'amoun Wazwaz said a foot patrol stopped them as they were driving to a nearby checkpoint where a Palestinian teenager had just been shot dead by an Israeli border guard.

Their car was clearly marked 'TV' and they were both wearing blue flak jackets with 'Press' emblazoned on the front. The soldiers forced them to leave the vehicle and punched them, striking them with the butts of their guns. They accused them of working for an Israeli NGO, B'Tselem, which documents human rights violations in the occupied West Bank, the Reuters cameramen said.

Locals say B'Tselem has given a number of Palestinians video cameras so they can film soldiers and settlers who live in this divided city. The NGO was not immediately available for comment. The soldiers did not let the men produce their official ID papers and forced them to strip down to their underwear, making them kneel on the road with their hands behind their heads, the cameramen said.

Two other Palestinian journalists working for local news organisations, including a satellite television station affiliated to the Islamist group Hamas, were also stopped and forced to the ground. One of the soldiers then dropped a tear gas canister between the men and the IDF patrol ran away. The four journalists scrambled clear and Jamal and Wazwaz got to their car, which had rapidly filled up with tear gas, they said.

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