Palestinian Journalist Wearing Press Jacket Killed by Israeli Fire in Gaza

The photographer Yaser Murtaja was shot in the chest and four additional journalists were injured by live fire. Israeli army: We did not intend to shoot journalists, circumstances under investigation

Palestinian photojournalist Yaser Murtaja soon after he was shot in the chest during clashes at the Gaza border Friday April 6, 2018.
IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/רויט

A Palestinian journalist shot Friday during clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces at the Gaza-Israel border died of his wounds later Friday night. The journalist, Yaser Murtaja, can be seen in photos soon after he was shot wearing a protective jacket labeled "PRESS". Four other journalists were injured by live fire during the demonstrations, one of them critically.

Murtaja, 30, was shot in the abdomen as he covered demonstrations Friday east of Gaza City. According to the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate, Murtaja was shot by gunfire while standing 350 meters from the border fence. The Israeli army has said in response: "The IDF does not intend to shoot at journalists, and the circumstances in which journalists were allegedly injured by IDF gunfire are unknown and are being investigated."

Murtaja was known to take aerial photographs using a drone. Minister Avigdor Lieberman said "I don't know who is and who isn't a photographer. Anyone who operates drones above IDF soldiers needs to understand he's endangering himself."

"We've seen dozens of cases where Hamas terrorists used ambulances, dressed up in red crescent personnel and disguised himself as journalists. We won't take any chances."

About a month ago, Murtaja wrote on Facebook that he had never left Gaza, sharing an aerial photograph of the Gaza port. Thousands attended his funeral in the Strip. 

Al-Aqsa TV photographer Khalil Abu Athra was also hit by live ammunition in the Rafah area while filming clashes. The Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate said all journalists in the protests were identified as such, accusing the IDF of intentionally harming journalists to prevent them from covering Friday's events.

Journalists at a demonstration in northern Israeli demonstrating in solidarity with killed photojournalist Yaser Murtaja on Saturday, April 7 2018.
MAHMUD HAMS/אי־אף־פי

Nine Palestinians were killed and 300 injured by live fire in the demonstrations Friday along Israel's border with Gaza. About 20,000 people took part in the demonstrations now in their second week. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, a total of 29 demonstrators have been killed since last week and 1,296 wounded, 79 in serious condition. 

Around one hundred people demonstrated Saturday in northern Israeli town Sakhnin to protest Israel's conduct on the Gaza border. "The demonstration is our answer to crimes of the occupation," said Israeli Arab politician Mohammad Barakeh. "Gaza will not surrender to the tank, the cannon or to occupation." Journalists also held a photo of killed journalist Murtaja. 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's office Monday condemned what it called Israel's murder and oppression in the Gaza Strip. Abbas instructed the Palestinian observer at the UN and Palestinian representatives in the Arab League and European Union to act to stop "Israeli crimes and the deliberate killing of an occupation army of unarmed demonstrators."