Israeli court bans screening of 'Jenin, Jenin' documentary

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Israeli court bans screening of 'Jenin, Jenin' documentary
The film was banned in Israel after a few screenings, but the supreme court later overturned the ban.

JERUSALEM (AFP).- An Israeli court has banned screenings of a controversial documentary film about 2002 clashes in the occupied West Bank by prominent director Mohammed Bakri, in a ruling seen by AFP Tuesday.

Bakri enraged the Israeli establishment and Jewish public with his documentary film "Jenin, Jenin" about 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 filed a defamation suit against Bakri after he was accused in the film of stealing money from an elderly Palestinian man.

In a ruling late Monday, the district court in Lod found in favour of Meghnagi and banned "the broadcasting and screening of the film in Israel".

The ruling said Meghnagi had been "sent to defend his country and found himself accused of a crime he did not commit".

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

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

Bakri's lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, characterised the ruling as a "political decision" aimed at "silencing any voice that differs from the Israeli narrative".

Bakri is an Arab Israeli, a term used to describe Palestinians who stayed on their land following the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 along with their descendants.

Israeli armed forces chief Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi hailed the verdict as a "clear message of support for the army".

But Palestinian culture minister Atef Abu Seif accused Israel's military authorities of being "afraid of seeing the facts that expose their brutality and the suffering of the Palestinians presented to the world".

"Jenin, Jenin", which recounts 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 chastised Bakri for not including the army's account of the clashes to balance the testimony of witnesses.

© Agence France-Presse

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