It was probably the most newsworthy element of this year’s Independence Day celebrations in Israel, but, oddly, footage of it didn’t appear on television.
At the official state torch-lighting ceremony in Jerusalem, Yoel Shalit — the brother of Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive by Hamas for almost five years — stood up with his girlfriend and displayed signs saying “Gilad is still alive” and shouted in protest against what he considers the government’s lack of effort to bring Gilad home. The two were forcibly ejected from the Monday night event.
The ceremony was televised by three domestic channels, all of which used a feed from a production company engaged by the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry. But the protest was conspicuously absent from the feed, meaning that TV viewers didn’t see it.
There is now growing interest in the question of why the protest was omitted — and on whose initiative. Did it simply happen out of the view of the cameras? Did the television channels decide? Or did the orders come from the government officials who commissioned the filming?
To the unnamed Channel Two news official who spoke to Ynet, the answer is obvious. “There is no doubt they’re embarrassed by this and they didn’t want to air it,” he said of the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry. “They could have easily aired the pictures. There were at least 10 cameras there. They clearly chose not to. In addition, the ministry also had preexisting knowledge about the provocation. They could have prepared for it ahead of time, they just didn’t want to.”