Journalists in Gaza strive to “tell truth” despite threats from Israeli troops

An Israeli soldier keeps guard near a Palestinian woman standing by a Star of David graffiti sprayed by Israeli settlers.

GAZA, April 14 (Xinhua) — Palestinian journalists have recently realized that they have become a target of Israeli soldiers while they were covering the mass protests on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

On April 6, Yasser Murtaga, a 30-year-old cameraman from Gaza city, was shot dead by Israeli troops east of the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis while he was filming for a local news and TV production company.

As part of the six-week ongoing protest called “the Great March of Return,” which started on March 30, the Palestinians have staged five rallies in eastern Gaza Strip along the border with Israel.

The rallies are expected to last until May 15, the day after the 70th anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence but marked by the Palestinians as the Nakba Day, or “Day of the Catastrophe.”

The Gaza Health Ministry said that 35 Palestinians have been killed, including two Hamas militants, and more than 2,800 were wounded since the start of the rallies.

Israel, on the other hand, claimed that most of the killed were Hamas militants and that some militants used to disguise as civilians.

As the confrontations intensified in the afternoon during the third Friday of the demonstrations, three journalists were wounded, including one in critical condition, while covering the events.

Spokesman of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, Ashraf al-Qedra, said that Ahmed Abu Aalwa and Mohammed al-Hajjar, both journalists working for local Palestinian organizations, were moderately wounded in northern Gaza.

Ahmad Abu Hussein, a local radio operator, was severely wounded in the same area by a gunshot in the abdomen, said Qedra.

Later in the day, a number of other journalists suffocated amid tear gas Israeli soldiers hurled at media teams covering the protests.

In a statement, the Union of Palestinian Journalists accused the Israeli troops of shooting at journalists covering the peaceful protests.

“Israel bears full responsibility for the casualties of journalists and its continuing crimes against them,” the Union said in a statement.

Ministry of Information in the Palestinian Authority considered the “deliberate” targeting of press and media crews as a blatant violation of the UN Security Council resolutions.

The ministry said in a statement that the injury of the three journalists was Israel’s accountability, adding the UN Security Council held an urgent meeting to implement resolution 2222 to protect the journalists.

Despite all difficulties, journalists continue to cover the ongoing events to provide updated information to the world audiences.

“We will do our best to convey the truth, regardless of the dangers we are facing,” Omer al-Zain, a young local journalist, told Xinhua during an event condemning the killing of journalist Murtaga.

Zain said Palestinian journalists have been suffering from Israeli aggressions for decades, stressing that Israel should be trialed for such crimes.

The situation of journalists in the Gaza Strip, which has been run by the Islamic Hamas movement for 11 years, is extremely difficult as they are not equipped with safety tools like journalists in other parts of the world.

According to photographers, the price of a protective jacket has reached an unaffordable 2,000 U.S. dollars on local market.

Ramadan al-Agha, a news photographer for a local newspaper in Gaza, rented a protective jacket for one day for 50 dollars.

“I have no other options, I must protect myself, although the jacket could not fully protect me,” he told Xinhua.


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