Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman backed a bill that would send anyone who films IDF soldiers with the intent to harm them to prison for five or 10 years.

The proposal, submitted by Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Robert Ilatov on Wednesday, states that anyone who films or records on-duty soldiers or disseminates such recordings on social media or mass media with the goal of undermining IDF soldiers’ or Israelis’ morale would get a five-year sentence, and anyone who does so with the intention of harming national security would go to prison for 10 years.

It is already illegal to take such photos without IDF permission, including for journalists, who are subject to military censorship.

The bill’s explanatory section mentions NGOs such as B’Tselem, Machsom Watch and Breaking the Silence, calling them “anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian... and BDS organizations.”

It states that “for many years, there has been a disturbing phenomenon in Israel of documenting IDF soldiers through videos, stills and voice recordings,” and that some NGOs have people follow soldiers all day long to try to “document them in a biased and slanted way... while sometimes accusing and insulting them.”

Ilatov said: “The time has come to put an end to this anarchy. It cannot be that any left-wing activist or organization, supported by foreign entities, can get free access and document, undisturbed, IDF soldiers on duty.

“We have the responsibility to give IDF soldiers the optimal conditions to do their jobs, without them having to be worried about a left-wing activist or organization sending out their photo and trying to shame them.”

Ilatov’s bill and comments came after Kan aired a video of Israelis approaching soldiers on patrol at the Gaza border, calling them terrorists and saying they serve in a racist army. MKs on the Right and Left condemned the video, which was also widely disseminated on social media.

Earlier this week, another video was released of soldiers watching through a telescope as an IDF sniper shoots a Gazan man and cheering him on, using vulgar language. No group has claimed responsibility for the video, taken in December, but the IDF said the cheering soldiers behaved inappropriately and would face consequences. According to the IDF, the Palestinian man was leading a riot near the Gaza border fence, and was shot in the leg after repeated warnings.

Breaking the Silence, which collects testimony, mostly anonymous, from IDF soldiers claiming war crimes, said of Liberman that he “sent us to kill and be killed in order to protect his personal home” – he lives in the West Bank – and is “the last one who can preach to anyone about harming soldiers.”

The statement referenced Liberman’s 2001 conviction for assaulting a 12-year-old who had allegedly hit his son.

“Sit quietly, Liberman, because we will be here after you, and we are the kind of witnesses you won’t be able to make disappear,” the organization said.

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