The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms MADA calls for a formation of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the killing of Yaser Murtaja, a 31 year-old photojournalist in “Ain Media” and the disproportionate use of excessive force by IOF against journalists and civilians during the peaceful return demonstration along Gaza borders since “Land Day” 30/03/2018.
A colleague of Martyr Yasser Murtaja, Hussam Hashem Salem, a journalist in “Ain Media”reported to MADA” After demonstrators set fire to the tires (on Friday 6/4/2018), the martyr Yasser Murtaja was covering the scene from behind the demonstrators, and was standing about 350 meters away from the border fence (IOF were deployed). He was wearing the protective vest and helmet. At this point IOF starting shooting live ammunition one of the demonstrators was injured at the beginning, and then Yasser was targeted by one of the IO snippers with an explosive bullet in the abdomen from the left side; the bullet penetrated his abdomen and left from the right side”.
He also added “Murtaja was transferred to Nasser hospital in Khan Younis where he underwent a four-hour surgery, in which part of the liver was removed. The bullet caused severe rupture in the spleen and cut off some of the arteries resulting in a lot of blood loss doctors had to provide him with 16 blood units. Then he was entered to intensive care and at midnight his health worsened, forcing doctors to enter him to another surgery, Murtaja passed away after an hour”.
On the same day at least 6 journalists were injured: (Khalil Abu Athra; who was targeted in Rafah, Adham Al hajjar, Izz Abu Shanab, Saber Nour Al Dein, Ibrahim Al Za’noun and a female journalist Islam Al Za’noun) all are photojournalists and were targeted in the eastern borders of Gaza Strip.
With the killing of Yasser Murtaja, MADA documented a total number of 42 journalists killed by the Israeli occupation forces since the beginning of 2000 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Since the start of the peaceful return demonstrations in the Gaza Strip ten days ago, at least 11 journalists were shot by the Israeli Occupation Forces, all were targeted while covering from hundreds of meter away from the border fence were Israeli forces are located, all journalists were perfectly identifiable with their press vests. However, Israeli Occupation Forces committed a total of 83 violations since the beginning of the year most of which fall under serious attacks.
In light of the continuing and escalating crimes of the Israeli occupation against journalists and the media outlets in Palestine, MADA Center reiterates its call on the international community in its various official institutions to strive to establish an independent commission to investigate the crimes of the Israeli occupation against journalists and civilians in Palestine. To put an end to the culture of impunity enjoyed by Israel, and to hold all perpetrators accountable.