New York, May 18, 2011—The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Israel today to investigate the shooting of Palestinian photographer Mohammed Othman. Othman was shot and seriously wounded by an Israeli soldier on May 15 near the Erez Crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, while on assignment for the U.K.-based citizen journalism site and photo agency Demotix, according to local and international news reports.
Othman was covering clashes between the Israeli military and Palestinians on Sunday when he was shot. He was about to take a picture of an Israeli soldier who was firing at a Palestinian who was throwing stones. As he held his camera, another Israeli soldier shot him, Mazen al-Breem, another Demotix photographer at the scene, told CPJ. Two bullets hit Othman, one in the hand and another in the back, Turi Munthe, founder and CEO of Demotix, told CPJ. The Israeli Defense Forces’ Spokesperson’s Unit did not provide CPJ with an immediate comment, but said that it would send a written response.
Othman was taken to a Gaza City hospital, where he underwent surgery. A doctor at the hospital told Agence France-Presse that a bullet tore through Othman’s lung and then lodged in his spine. Although Othman’s condition is currently stable, there are concerns about potential paralysis if additional operations are not forthcoming, according to the same report. Othman’s wife, Iman, told journalists that medical staff informed her that husband is likely to require a level of medical treatment that is not available in Gaza.
“Israeli authorities must launch a timely and transparent investigation into the shooting of Mohammed Othman, and punish any individuals guilty of misconduct,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “In addition, Israel must also do everything it can to facilitate Othman’s medical evacuation to another country if requested.”