Can video cameras bring peace to the West Bank?

Some weeks back, I blogged on an Israeli human rights group’s campaign to distribute video cameras to Palestinians, who could then capture incidents involving Israeli settlers, soliders, and the abuses that often take place as Israel continues to build new settlements in the West Bank. Recent attacks by Israeli settlers have included an assault on ...

593628_080730_video5.jpg
593628_080730_video5.jpg

Some weeks back, I blogged on an Israeli human rights group's campaign to distribute video cameras to Palestinians, who could then capture incidents involving Israeli settlers, soliders, and the abuses that often take place as Israel continues to build new settlements in the West Bank. Recent attacks by Israeli settlers have included an assault on elderly Palestinian shepherds using sticks, as well as an attack last week on a Palestinian village by 20 Jewish settlers.

The human rights group, B'Tselem, says it has succeeded in educating not only Western readers and viewers, but also Israeli citizens, who do not always have a clear picture of what transpires in the disputed areas and settlements.

Some weeks back, I blogged on an Israeli human rights group’s campaign to distribute video cameras to Palestinians, who could then capture incidents involving Israeli settlers, soliders, and the abuses that often take place as Israel continues to build new settlements in the West Bank. Recent attacks by Israeli settlers have included an assault on elderly Palestinian shepherds using sticks, as well as an attack last week on a Palestinian village by 20 Jewish settlers.

The human rights group, B’Tselem, says it has succeeded in educating not only Western readers and viewers, but also Israeli citizens, who do not always have a clear picture of what transpires in the disputed areas and settlements.

Diala Shamas, the coordinator for B’Tselem’s “Shooting Back” project, explains:

It started bridging the gap between what is happening in the occupied territories and what the Israeli public can see. There is a silence surrounding not only settler violence, but abuses by the IDF as well. This footage is mostly shocking to Israelis.”

The project seems to be doing some good. After footage supplied to B’Tselem by a 17-year old Palestinian girl showed a bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoner being threatened and then shot in the foot by Israel Defense Forces troops, the IDF opened an investigation that led to the suspension of an Israeli colonel after it was discovered that he ordered a subordinate to shoot the unarmed prisoner. The Guardian has published sample footage online, which includes the shooting mentioned above.

In an ongoing struggle where neither side is innocent, the videos have the potential to help. At the very least, they can keep those on both sides, as well as international observers, more aware of what is actually going on. Who knows? They could help tilt the balance of Israeli politics away from the settler movement, and show Palestinians that nonviolence can get results. And just maybe, cameras can succeed where stones and bombs have failed.

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