Reporters Without Borders on Saturday accused the Israeli army of the “deliberate shooting” of journalists in Gaza after a week of bloodshed by the border.
Nine people were killed in the latest unrest, including Yasser Murtaja, a journalist with the Gaza-based Ain Media agency who died from his wounds after being shot, the health ministry in Gaza said.
At least 491 people were also wounded by Israeli gunfire, the ministry said, as thousands of protesters approached the border fence around Gaza for a second Friday in a row, burning tyres and hurling stones at Israeli forces. No Israelis were injured.
“Palestinian photographer Yasser Mourtaja was wearing a vest marked “Press”: he was obviously the victim of an intentional shot,” said Christophe Deloire, the Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), on Twitter. “RSF condemns absolutely the deliberate shooting of journalists by the Israeli army.”
We condemn the disproportionate reaction by Israeli forces, who killed or wounded several civilians including journalists and we urge the Israeli government to adhere strictly to @UN Security Council Resolution 2222 on protecting journalists, adopted in 2015
— RSF (@RSF_inter) April 7, 2018
Murtaja, 30, was shot while taking pictures of the protests east of Khan Younis in the south of the territory, according to the health ministry. Witnesses say he was close to the front of the protests when he was hit.
An AFP picture taken after he was wounded showed Murtaja wearing a press vest as he received treatment. His brother Motazem, also a journalist, said he was next to him when he was shot. “The target was very clearly journalists,” he said.
Israel’s army declined to comment, saying it was reviewing the incident.
Mourners and journalists carried Murtaja’s body through the streets of Gaza during his funeral on Saturday.
“We call on the Israeli government to comply with U.N. Security Council Resolution 2222 on the protection of journalists (adopted in 2015), demand an urgent independent investigation and the sentencing of the perpetrators of this crime against freedom of the press,” said Deloire.
Israel said around 20,000 people took part in the protests and that they were seeking to breach the border.
The numbers were down from the previous Friday, when tens of thousands approached the border in demonstrations that saw Israeli forces kill 19 Palestinians, making it the bloodiest day in Gaza since a 2014 war.