Israeli court bans screening of documentary “Jenin, Jenin”

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Jerusalem (AFP)

An Israeli court has banned the screening of a controversial documentary film about the 2002 clashes in the occupied West Bank by prominent director Mohammed Bakri, in a decision seen by AFP on Tuesday.

Bakri angered the Israeli establishment and the Jewish public with his documentary film “Jenin, Jenin” about the April 2002 clashes in a Palestinian refugee camp in which 52 Palestinians and 23 Israeli soldiers were killed.

The film was banned in Israel after a few screenings, but the Supreme Court later overturned the ban.

An army colonel who participated in the Jenin operation, Nissim Meghnagi, then sued Bakri for libel after he was accused in the film of stealing money from an elderly Palestinian.

In a ruling issued on Monday evening, the Lod District Court ruled in favor of Meghnagi and banned “the showing and screening of the film in Israel.”

According to the ruling, Meghnagi had been “sent to defend his country and found himself accused of a crime he had not committed”.

She ordered Bakri to pay Meghnagi 175,000 shekels ($ 55,400) in damages.

Bakri told AFP he would appeal, dismissing the decision as “unfair” and insisting the judge had acted on the instructions “from above”.

Bakri’s lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, called the decision a “political decision” aimed at “silencing any voice that differs from the Israeli narrative.”

Bakri is an Israeli Arab, a term used to describe the Palestinians who remained on their land after the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 with their descendants.

The head of the Israeli armed forces, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, hailed the verdict as a “clear message of support for the army.”

But the Palestinian Minister of Culture, Atef Abu Seif, accused the Israeli military authorities of being “afraid to see the facts which expose their brutality and the suffering of the Palestinians presented to the world”.

“Jenin, Jenin”, which chronicles deadly clashes during the Second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, has been the subject of repeated legal challenges.

A 2008 complaint filed by army reservists who participated in the Jenin operation was dismissed, but the judge berated Bakri for not including the army’s account of the clashes in order to balance the testimony .

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