Contradicting Israel, Journalists' Federation Says Slain Palestinian Photographer Was Arrested and Beaten by Hamas

Israeli defense chief Lieberman claimed Yaser Murtaja, who was killed by Israeli fire during Gaza border clashes, was a paid member of Hamas

Mortally wounded Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, 31, is evacuated during clashes with Israeli troops at the Israel-Gaza border, April 6, 2018.
\ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS

A Palestinian photographer shot dead by Israeli security forces during mass protests was seized and beaten by Hamas in 2015, apparently contradicting Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's claim that he was a paid Hamas operative, AFP reported Wednesday.

A report by the International Federation of Journalists, published by AFP, said Yaser Murtaja was detained by Hamas three years ago after he documented the demolition of a house near the border. His captors demanded to see what he had documented, and when he refused he was forced into a vehicle, the report said. He was then beaten until he required hospitalization, according to the report, which was based on an interview with the photographer.

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On Tuesday it emerged that a media firm co-founded by Murtaja recently received a grand from the U.S. government. Murtaja's company, Ain Media, became a USAID program beneficiary in March under a program that supports private sector development. The TV production company has done projects, including aerial drone filming, for foreign media clients such as the BBC and Al Jazeera English.

Lieberman claimed that Murtaja had been operating a drone above Israeli troops when he was shot, but the military had yet to release evidence of this.

The military said on Sunday that will launch an inquiry into the conduct of troops in the recent incidents on the border with Gaza, in which several protesters were killed by sniper fire.