New York, May 18, 2017–The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Israeli authorities to apprehend and try the man who shot Associated Press photographer Majdi Mohammed in the hand and killed a Palestinian protester near the northern West Bank city of Nablus today.
The AP, citing video footage, witnesses, and medical officals, reported that a man, whom Israeli media identified as a settler, fatally shot a protester and shot their photographer in the hand after dozens of protesters blocked the road near the Hawara checkpoint. When the settler drove through the crowd, protesters began beating the car and throwing rocks at it. The man rammed a Palestinian ambulance with his car, the AP reported, and began shooting out of his back windshield with a pistol.
Mohammed told his employer he was shot in the hand as he attempted to put on a gas mask after Israeli soldiers arrived to disperse the protest. In video footage published to YouTube, Mohammed can be seen injured, wearing a protective vest and helmet, not far from the slain protester, whom the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency subsequently identified as Muataz Hussein Hilal, 23.
According to the AP, the shooter, who was not identified by name and whose face the channel blurred to obscure his identity, subsequently told Israel’s Channel 2 news that he had acted in self-defense and that he was grateful to have made it home “in peace.”
Israeli military spokesmen did not answer CPJ’s phone call or email requesting comment. The Ma’an News Agency quoted an Israeli military spokeswoman as saying that she was unsure whether security forces had detained the shooter. The left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that police were not treating the settler as a suspect.
“Israeli authorities should not allow a man who by his own admission shot at a crowd, injuring a journalist and killing a young man, to rest comfortably at home, unmolested by police,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said. “Israel must show that its citizens cannot shoot journalists or other unarmed civilians with impunity.”
Mohammed reported that an Israeli security officer shot him in the back at close range with a rubber-coated bullet in October 2016 as he left a protest in the West Bank. The Israeli Foreign Press Association said it believed the shooting was intentional, according to media reports. On December 16, 2011, the photographer was injured when security forces fired a tear gas canister directly at his leg while he covered a demonstration, according to media reports.