WORLD NEWS
04/07/2018 11:57 am ET

Palestinian Journalist Killed In Israel-Gaza Protests

Yasser Murtaja, a cameraman for Palestinian Ain Media, was the 29th Palestinian killed in the week-long protests.

GAZA (Reuters) - A Palestinian journalist died on Saturday after being wounded by Israeli fire on Friday while covering deadly protests along the Israel-Gaza border, health officials said.

Yasser Murtaja, 30, a cameraman for Palestinian Ain Media, was the 29th Palestinian killed in the week-long protests.

Photos showed Murtaja lying wounded on a stretcher wearing a navy-blue protective vest marked ‘PRESS’ in large black capital letters. Health officials said a live bullet had penetrated the side of his abdomen and he succumbed to his wounds in hospital.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army was looking into the incident and could not comment further at this stage.

The daily protests, dubbed “The Great March of Return”, began on March 30 along the Israel-Gaza frontier, reviving a longstanding demand for the right of return of Palestinian refugees to towns and villages from which their families fled, or were driven out, when the state of Israel was created.

Israel has stationed sharpshooters to stop attempts by Palestinians to breach the border or sabotage the security fence.

Freelance photographer Ashraf Abu Amra told Reuters he was next to Murtaja, whom he said was wearing a helmet and protective vest. Abu Amra said they were both clearly marked as journalists.

“We were filming as youths torched tires. We were about 250 meters from the fence,” said Abu Amra. “Israeli forces opened fire and injuries began. Yaser and I ran to film when suddenly Yaser fell to the ground.

“I screamed to him ‘Yaser are you alright?’. He didn’t respond and there was blood on the ground underneath him. I knew it was a bad injury and people carried him away,” said Abu Amra.

FUNERAL

Video footage showed Murtaja being carried to an ambulance with crowds around and black smoke rising from where protesters had set tyres alight, east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Murtaja was married with a two-year-old son. Hundreds of mourners, among them many journalists, attended his funeral on Saturday.

His body was covered with a Palestinian flag and his press jacket laid beside him on the stretcher as it was carried through the streets of Gaza City to his home for a last farewell.

“I made him breakfast, he ate quickly, he was in a hurry to go to work,” said Murtaja’s mother, Yusra, recounting the morning of the protest.

“I thought he would recover from his injury, I didn’t expect his death, but God has chosen him as a martyr, thank God,” she said, sitting on the ground as mourners came to the house to pay their respects.

Israel Radio, citing an unnamed source in Gaza, said Murtaja had been operating a camera drone on Friday. Abu Amra and two other Palestinian journalists said Murtaja was not operating a camera drone when shot.

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