Protesters try to move part of the fence along the Gaza Strip border with Israel during a protest east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 20, 2018. Freelance photojournalist Zaki Yahya Awadallah was hit by a live round fired by the Israel Defense Force while covering a protest east of Rafah city on July 20, according to reports. (AP/Adel Hana)

Palestinian photojournalist shot covering Gaza protests

July 24, 2018 2:53 PM ET

Zaki Yahya Awadallah, a freelance photojournalist, was hit by a live round fired by the Israel Defense Forces while covering a protest east of the southern Gazan city of Rafah on July 20, 2018, according to news reports, the Palestinian press freedom group Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA), and the regional press freedom group Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom.

The bullet went through Awadallah's right leg below the knee, severing the artery, and pierced his left leg, according to Skeyes and a Facebook post by Awadallah.

Pictures and video footage shared on Facebook and Twitter show that Awadallah was carrying his camera, but was not wearing any protective gear that identified him as journalist, when he was shot.

Video footage shared on social media also shows that protesters tried to stop the bleeding in Awadallah's right leg by tying a Palestinian scarf above the wound. They then took the journalist to an ambulance and transferred him to the European Gaza Hospital in Rafah, according to the footage.

Awadallah said on Facebook on July 21 that the artery in his right leg was ligated and he is in stable condition. In a video interview shared on social media, Awadallah spoke from his hospital bed and called on Israeli authorities to allow him to travel to the West Bank to complete his treatment.

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

Awadallah has been covering ongoing protests in Gaza since they began on March 30, 2018. He posts his photographs to his Facebook account, which has over 2,600 followers. He is also director of the media production and marketing company One Media.

News reports said that four Palestinians, three of whom were members of Hamas' armed wing Al-Qassam Brigades, were killed during the July 20 protests in Gaza.

On the same day, freelance photojournalist Hiba Awad was hit in her left arm by a tear gas canister while covering the protests east of the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis, according to news reports and a Facebook post from Awad. Awad was immediately transferred for treatment to a nearby ambulance and did not sustain serious injuries, according to the same sources.

Since the protests began on March 30, 2018, CPJ has documented that at least 17 journalists have been hit by live rounds fired by Israel Defense Forces, two of whom--Yaser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein--later died from their injuries.

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