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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 22:39 GMT
Israeli soldiers sue over film
Israeli tanks in Jenin, April 2002
Part of the camp was reduced to rubble
Five Israeli reserve soldiers are suing an Israeli Arab film director they accuse of libelling troops who fought in the battle for the Jenin refugee camp.

They accuse Mohammed Bakri of libellously portraying them and their comrades as war criminals in the film Jenin, Jenin, which was recently banned in Israel.

Over eight days of fighting in April 2002, 53 Palestinian gunmen and civilians were killed along with 23 Israeli soldiers as they searched for militants.

Speaking about his film, Mr Bakri has suggested that his critics are not prepared to accept his version of the "truth".

The soldiers, who are also suing two Israeli cinemas which screened it after its October release, are claiming 2.5m shekels ($500,000) in damages.

"We received an emergency call-up order and went out to fight in order to defend our homes," one of the reservists told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

"We fought slowly, day after day, in order to avoid harming the civilian population. This film portrays us as war criminals."


Israel's censorship board banned the film in December on the grounds that it was propaganda and misrepresented events.

Medical workers take away an injured Palestinian boy, April 2002
Jenin is still a centre of unrest
The cinemas which showed it before the ban are being sued for screening images of the soldiers without their permission.

Mr Bakri has defended his 53-minute film for showing an Israeli tank hurtling toward a crowd of Palestinians with the implication that it ran them down.

"I didn't want to say that it is crushing the people, but I want to tell people how frightened people were there," he said.

Mr Bakri said Israelis who rejected his film were rejecting "someone else's truth".

Human rights groups have accused Israel of violating the rights of Palestinian civilians in the camp but initial claims by Palestinian officials that hundreds of people died in the fighting have not been backed up by investigations.

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