A 30-year-old Palestinian journalist was covering the “Great March of Return” protests near the Gaza-Israel border when what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration turned violent. The reporter was wearing a blue flak vest with the word “press” written across it, clearly identifying him as a member of the press, but that didn’t stop an Israeli sniper from targeting him, hitting him with a bullet that would shortly claim his life.
Yaser Murtaja was a video journalist and a photographer, not a protester. He was taken to a hospital where he eventually succumbed to his wounds. He was shot in the abdomen by Israeli forces, confirmed the Palestinian health ministry.
“Yaser was filming with his camera next to me when we heard the sound of gunfire,” photographer Hosam Salem, who witnessed the brutal incident, told Al Jazeera. “He just fell on the ground and said, 'I've been shot, I've been shot.’”
Photos from the violent border protest showed the journalist writhing on the ground in pain after being struck by Israeli soldiers.
As the Middle East Monitor reported, Murtaja was the co-founder of Ain Media, a team of Palestinian media professionals reporting on the events taking place near Gaza’s border with Israel.
According to the Palestinian journalist syndicate, what happened with Murtaja wasn’t an isolated incident. At least seven other reporters were also injured while covering the protest in what the group described as “deliberate crimes committed by the Israeli army.”
Journalist Khalil Abu Athira was one of them.
The syndicate has not only called for a protest to demand justice for the senseless killing of the Palestinian reporter, but have also asked the United Nation to protect the journalists.
Last week, over 750 Palestinians were reportedly shot by Israeli forces and at least 20 were killed as they protested the struggle they have experienced since they were expelled from their lands and their right of return.
The Israeli military said that the thousands of protesters were using the demonstration as a cover to carry out attacks, with one incident mentioning a Palestinian gunman firing toward soldiers. And yet, only Palestinians reportedly suffered injuries and deaths.
Due to the large number of people injured in this protest, last Friday was the bloodiest day in the Gaza Strip since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.
A number of social media users expressed anger and frustration over Yaer Murtaja’s fatal shooting.
😥 a sad day for media— BDS South Africa (@BDSsouthafrica) April 7, 2018
Yesterday, Friday 6th April, Israeli snipers shot 30 year old Palestinian photo journalist Yaser Murtaja in the abdomen, a few hours later he died.
Murtaja, who was killed while attempting to do his job, was wearing his vest clearly marked as PRESS.
"We know where every bullet landed": This is Yaser Murtaja before Israeli snipers targetted him for being a journalist. PRESS can NOT protect Palestinian journalists. #GreatReturnMarch pic.twitter.com/jS4oEqmnAw— Palestine Info Center (@palinfoen) April 7, 2018
Yaser Murtaja, 30-yr-old Palestinian journalist reporting on the Gaza-Israel border, was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper while covering protests. He was wearing a vest that said PRESS. pic.twitter.com/Nl1JvUhUTb— Dr. Seema Yasmin (@DoctorYasmin) April 7, 2018
The great journalist @YaserMurtaja martyred while he was covering #GreatMarchOfReturn he was a great friend I cannot believe Zionist bullets took his soul away 😭😭😭 may he rest in peace 😭😭😭 #Gaza pic.twitter.com/tUnRBSpxJk— Farah Baker (@Farah_Gazan) April 6, 2018
Horrible horrible news. Yaser Murtaja, CLEARLY identified as a journalist and yet shot in the stomach by Israeli forces, is now reported to have died. Let’s see if we journalists make as much noise for a Palestinian journalist as we do for Western ones. https://t.co/1BM20g84iJ— Barry Malone (@malonebarry) April 7, 2018
Yaser Murtaja was a filmmaker and the founder of Ain Media, a media and art agency which sought to tell the reality of life in Gaza. He was 30-years-old and was shot down by an Israeli sniper while attempting to do his job. pic.twitter.com/FtPhKvEles— Liam O'Hare (@Liam_O_Hare) April 6, 2018
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Ibraheem Abu Mustafa