Palestinian photographer shot in face with rubber bullet

Israeli forces shot Palestinian freelance photographer Mohammed al-Azza, 23, in the face with a rubber-coated bullet on April 8, 2013, in Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, according to local news reports. Al-Azza was taken to a local hospital, where he underwent several surgeries to repair the broken bones in his face.

Nidal al-Azza, al-Azza’s uncle and a human rights lawyer, told CPJ that al-Azza was filming clashes between the Israel Defense Forces and local residents from a balcony when a soldier demanded that he stop filming. When the journalist refused, the soldier directly shot at him from approximately 35 feet (10 meters) away, the lawyer said. The bullet fractured the photographer’s right cheekbone.

In an article published the next day, online Israeli newsmagazine +972 reported that al-Azza was afraid of leaving the building to seek medical care after the attack. Israeli forces were firing additional rubber bullets at them while they tried to exit the building, but after al-Azza’s friend shouted that he needed medical care, the soldiers allowed them to leave. +972 also published several of al-Azza’s photographs taken on the day of the attack.

Al-Azza teaches photography and journalism at the Lajaee Center, a children’s center in the Aida Refugee Camp. His work has been published in the Palestine News Network, an independent news organization established in 2003.

The IDF has not issued a public statement about the attack. CPJ’s calls to the IDF were not immediately returned.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This case has been correct to reflect that Nidal al-Azza is the journalist’s uncle–not cousin, as was previously stated.