Hazards of the Job |

The Fate of Palestinian Journalists Who Risk Covering Protests

Not only do Palestinian journalists who document demonstrations get shot by the Israeli military, now they are also denied proper medical care. The case of photojournalist Ahmed Abu Hassin is the latest example

Netta Ahituv
Netta Ahituv
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Gazan photojournalist Ahmed Abu Hassin who was shot by the Israeli military while documenting a protest on the Gaza border.
Gazan photojournalist Ahmed Abu Hassin who was shot by the Israeli military while documenting a protest on the Gaza border. Credit: Alaa Abu-Hussein
Netta Ahituv
Netta Ahituv

Gazan photojournalist Ahmed Abu Hassin was gravely injured last Friday while documenting the March of Return, a series of weekly Palestinian protests at the border between Gaza and Israel. But it was only on Sunday when the Israeli military agreed to let Abu Hassin, who is now anesthetized and on life support, pass through Israel to get to a hospital in Ramallah where he could receive medical treatment that might save his life.

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That's how long it took the army to decide whether a journalist who was injured on the job would be granted the right to receive adequate medical care and whether they agree to breach a rule for him which determines that Palestinians participating in the demonstrations will not be permitted to pass through Israel to hospitals in the West Bank or in Jordan to get life-saving treatment.

>> The cold calculation behind the Israeli army's sniper fire on the Gaza border | Analysis ■ >> Cease fire on the Gaza Strip | Editorial ■ >> Hamas hijacked the Gaza protests, which are set to continue for weeks | Analysis

On Monday, it is worthwhile noting, the High Court of Justice ruled that a young Palestinian man who participated in the demonstrations in Gaza should be allowed to pass through Israel to Ramallah in order to receive treatment that would save him from a leg amputation.

The 25-year-old Abu Hassin has been working as photojournalist for a local news agency since he graduated high school. One of his family members said Abu Hassin is funny and loving, and he seems that way in his photos from before he was injured. One would imagine that after criticism aimed at Israel from around the world for the death of Gaza journalist Yasser Murtaja, IDF snipers would take more precautions before firing at journalists – but that is not the case.

>> Palestinian journalist wearing press jacket shot and killed by Israeli fire in Gaza 1,297 Palestinians shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers overwhelming Gaza's hospitals 'I was just following orders': What will you tell your children? | Opinion

Last Friday, two weeks after Murtaja was killed, a sniper fired a bullet at Abu Hassin's stomach. He was stationed at a permissible distance from the border fence and was doing his job with a regular camera (not with a drone – a practice Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned against and said justified a response from the army after Murtaja's death).

FILE PHOTO: Palestinians evacuate journalist Yasser Murtaja during clashes with Israeli troops at the border in the southern Gaza Strip. Credit: \ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/ REUTERS

A day before, a delegation of eight Israeli doctors entered the Gaza Strip on behalf of the NGO Physicians for Human Rights in order to bolster the medical array in Gaza over the weekend. Among them was Dr. Jamal Hijazi, an Israeli vascular surgeon from Sha'ari Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem. Hijazi tells Haaretz that the main difficulty in providing medical treatment in Gaza is the lack of basic equipment such as sanitation materials, liquids for infusions, tools to splint limbs or medical sewing threads.

"In several surgeries, I saw a bleeding vessel and then discovered that I don't have sewing threads to stitch it together. In many cases we had to amputate organs because of the shortage of medical equipment," Hijazi said.

Responding to the report, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories stated: "The State of Israel is a sovereign state that has the right to decide who will come through its gates. Foreign residents do not have any given right to enter Israeli territory, including Palestinians. The entrance of residents of the Gaza Strip is examined on a case-by-case basis and is subject to a security checkup. Due to the medical state Ahmed Abu Hassin was in, the defense minister- following a COGAT recommendation- approved Hassin's transfer to the hospital in Ramallah for further care.

We will also add that the Gaza Strip is being ruled by a terror organization, Hamas, which acts every day to take advantage of the civilian steps being promoted by Israel for [the organization's] terror purposes. Despite this reality, in a manner which should not be taken for granted, Israel acts to promote a civilian policy to prevent a humanitarian deterioration in Gaza."

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