Representatives of bereaved Israeli family members and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who fought in the Battle of Jenin in 2002 are outraged that the police were called over a tent they set up to protest a film they say defames the IDF.
Last week, on Israel’s Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism (Yom Hazikaron), the protest tent was erected outside Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s office to demonstrate against his decision not to open judicial proceedings against Israeli Arab filmmaker Mohammad Bakri for his film “Jenin, Jenin” and its portrayal of Israeli soldiers.
In many Israelis’ eyes, the film constitutes libel against Israeli soldiers by portraying the battle, in which 23 Israeli soldiers and 52 Palestinians were killed, as a wide-scale massacre of Palestinian civilians-a claim refuted by the United Nations as well as Human Rights Watch and other nongovernmental organizations. But Weinstein, upholding the decision made by his two predecessors not to launch proceedings against Bakri, said in December 2014 that he had not been presented with “extraordinary claims not known before.”
Representatives for the Israeli soldiers who fought in the battle have appealed to the president, prime minister, Knesset speaker, defense minister, IDF chief, and attorney general to overturn Weinstein’s decision. Attorney Israel Caspi, who fought in the Jenin battle and is representing the bereaved families and the soldiers, told Israel Hayom, “Police came to us and questioned us under the pretense that there had been a disturbance, which is a lie.”
The Israeli Justice Ministry said in a statement, “A quiet protest tent was erected outside and the attorney general is unaware of any attempt to remove or displace the participants. The attorney general respects the protesters and their cause.”