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Israeli court bans controversial film ‘Jenin, Jenin’

Israeli court bans controversial film ‘Jenin, Jenin’

dpa
Tel Aviv
An Israeli court has banned a controversial film documenting a fierce battle between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank City of Jenin in 2002, finding that the Arab-Israeli director distorted events while presenting them as fact.
The Lod district court made its decision on Monday, concluding a libel lawsuit filed against director Mohammed Bakri by Israeli reservist Nissim Magnaji, whose participation in Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield is portrayed in the film.
The court found that some of the representations in “Jenin, Jenin”, including of Magnaji looting money from an elderly person, are untrue.
“On the other side, the plaintiff, a private person who was called up by the State of Israel for military service during Operation Defensive Shield, finds himself presented in the body of the same film, as someone who looted all the money of another person - an elderly and helpless man - as part of the presentation of an alternative reality of the defendant’s creation,” the judge said.
The court prohibited any screenings of the film in Israel and issued an order to confiscate the 24 copies of the film. There is no ban on the film on YouTube.
The court ordered Bakri to pay Magnaji 175,000 shekels (55,000 dollars) in compensation as well as 50,000 shekels of court expenses.
Bakri told Israeli media he will appeal the decision at the Supreme Court.
“I intend to appeal the verdict because it is unfair, it is neutering my truth,” Bakri told the Walla News website.
“I gave a stage to people to tell what they felt during [Operation] Defensive Shield,” he added. He denied that he had lied or distorted the truth yet acknowledged that he had not verified the testimonies that he had shared.
Defence minister and former army chief-of-staff Benny Gantz tweeted on Tuesday: “I have supported the struggle of the soldiers who were deployed in Operation Defensive Shield to bring the truth about the ‘Jenin, Jenin’ film to light, and I applaud the closure that the court’s ruling has brought.” Palestinians claimed Israeli soldiers had carried out a massacre in Jenin, killing 500 people.
A United Nations investigation in 2002 revealed that 52 Palestinians, up to half of them civilians, and 23 Israel soldiers died in the heavy fighting in the city.
The report rejected allegations of an Israeli massacre in the camp as “unsubstantiated,” but accused Israel of severe human rights violations, including unlawful killings, disproportionate use of force, arbitrary arrests and denying access to medical treatment.
“Jenin, Jenin” was publicly screened three times in Israel in 2002, causing a furore among relatives of the Israeli soldiers killed in the city, before being banned by the censor. Israel’s High Court overturned the ban in 2003.
Opponents slammed the documentary as “Palestinian Authority propaganda” which contained uncountered claims and “utter lies” by interviewees who say they were subjected to brutal behaviour by Israeli soldiers during the April 3 - 18 offensive in Jenin.
Bakri said the film expressed the feelings and pain of Palestinians and was an attempt to show Israelis their side of the conflict.

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