steampunk heart

Cameras broke just when Israeli forces killed a Palestinian

The cameras along the route where Eyad Hallaq walked and died weren’t working. A malfunction. A Jerusalem route of ancient hewn stones, apparently the most photographed 100 meters in the world, with Border Police, Shin Bet agents, soldiers, policemen, informers, recruiters, all of them photographing and photographed around the clock.

No fewer than seven cameras are aimed at this slice of street, documenting every millisecond in real time and transferring the footage to storage – and nothing. Even the two cameras in the garbage room (cameras in the garbage room!) whose lenses saw the moments of the shooting, the shouting, the dying and the death – even they didn’t work; the place was jinxed. They broke down.

Just like the cameras at the Allenby Bridge border crossing, in March 2014, that broke down exactly when Israeli soldiers shot a Jordanian judge; like the footage that disappeared from the Qalandiyah checkpoint in April 2016, when civilian guards shot to death a young, unarmed brother and sister; just as there is never available footage that documents “an attack on a policeman” (that moment when a civilian is flattened by five musclemen in uniform and assaults them by licking the asphalt).

Does anyone still believe the automatic accounts of the sources who are “conversant with the details of the investigation”? You know, “no documentation was found” is first cousin to “the shooting was carried out according to the procedures,” brother-in-law of “no causal connection was found between the illness the soldier contracted and his military service.” You remember the way we used to tell lies, under the golden skies, as the song goes.

It’s a sure thing that if Hallaq had attacked the cops, or even hiccupped in their direction, all the security footage of all the cameras would have been forwarded immediately to the TV stations and the news sites – and only then to the Justice Ministry unit that investigates the police, if at all.

“The terrorist charged, the soldiers neutralized,” “Watch the moments of terror,” “I thought about mom who’s waiting for me at home – and I shot.” The automatic headline generator will produce them at the rate of one a minute.

The policy is clear, so it’s hard to understand why the Israeli government still insists on whitewashing and fudging. What happened to the cameras? They broke down, wink-wink. They weren’t operating at the time of the incident, if you get our drift.

Really, why bother? Recall Elor Azaria – someone filmed the event, someone distributed the film, everyone saw it and knew. What was the result? Some think he’s a hero, some think he’s a murderer. Faster than you can say Jack Robinson, zing, back home to mom, and now also a suit against the Defense Ministry for psychological trauma he suffered. (Azaria, here’s a spoiler for you: “No causal connection was found between the illness and his military service.”)

At the beginning of the month, Elbit Systems’ new Jupiter camera was installed in the Ofek 16 satellite (“Watch!”). According to Ynet, the camera “will assist the IDF’s visual intelligence unit, among other purposes, to monitor what is happening in Iran and Syria.”

Way to go, really. But as I see it, Israel’s true achievement is a completely different development: the cameras that break down or shut off whenever their lens hits on something that’s not pleasant for us Israelis to admit exists.

No official information about this has been released yet (probably waiting for the patents registrar), but I’m sure that, like Israel’s offensive cybercapabilities, drones and rifles, the suicidal camera will be a dazzling success among the country’s security exports.

Original: Noa Osterreicher – HAARETZ