Palestinian journalist shot while covering Gaza protests

Beirut, June 8, 2018–Mohammed al-Baba, a photographer for Agence France-Presse, was hit by a live round fired by the Israel Defense Forces while covering a protest east of the northern Gazan city of Jabalia, according to news reports, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, reports shared by news outlets on social media, and CPJ interviews with local journalists Saud Abu Ramadan and Moneeb Saada.

Al-Baba, who was shot below the knee in the right leg, was taken to Al-Awda Hospital in Jabalia, according to the same sources and local reporter Sami Eissa. The journalist has been undergoing treatment to stabilize the bone that was injured as a result of the bullet, according to his employer.

“The use of live ammunition against journalists covering the Gaza protests shows how little regard Israel has for their safety,” CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C. “Israeli authorities must investigate the shooting of Mohammed al-Baba and take all measures to ensure that the media can safely cover protests.”

Al-Baba was covering the resumption of mass protests in the Gaza Strip, as thousands of Palestinians joined demonstrations over Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their pre-1948 homes, news reports said.

Since the protests began on March 30, 2018, CPJ has documented at least 16 journalists hit by live rounds fired by Israel Defense Forces, two of whom–Yaser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein–later died from their injuries.

At least two other journalists were injured while covering the protests today:

  • Ismail abu Omar, a reporter for the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa Radio, was hit by a tear gas canister in his back while covering protests east of the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis, according to reports and footage shared on social media and Ramadan. He was immediately transferred for treatment to a nearby medical tent, according to the same sources.
  • Freelance journalist Shireen Salloul was hit by a tear gas canister in her left foot while covering protests east of Al-Bureij, according to Ramadan and reports shared on social media.

The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately reply to CPJ’s email requesting comment.