At least three journalists covering protests in the Gaza Strip and West Bank on August 2, 2019 were injured as Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition and rubber bullets, and, in one case, allegedly assaulted a photojournalist working for the Associated Press, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, news reports, and videos and pictures shared by the journalists’ colleagues on social media.
Iyad Hamad, a 61-year-old photographer for the AP, was detained for about an hour while Israeli border police officers checked his press credentials while he was covering a protest in Wadi al Hummus in the West Bank, according to a statement by the Foreign Press Association that the AP forwarded to CPJ. An officer later kicked the journalist in the shin, according to the statement.
A video posted on social media by a production company called Cam. Pal Media appears to show Hamad limping and then being pushed to the ground by an Israeli soldier. Cam. Pal Media is a Bethlehem-based company that produces footage of events in the West Bank, as well as wedding and graduation videos. In the video, the soldier then disperses the other journalists while a paramedic treats Hamad. Another Israeli soldier throws a tear gas canister at a group of journalists who were filming him, forcing the press to leave the scene and the paramedics to evacuate Hamad in a gas mask.
Pictures shared on social media by colleagues and Palestinian media outlets show that Hamad received initial medical treatment on site and his left foot was bandaged. According to news reports, he was transferred to the Government Hospital in Beit Jala, 10 kilometers south of Jerusalem.
On the same day, freelance photographer and cameraman Osama al-Kahlut was hit by a live bullet fired by Israeli forces while he was covering protests east of Al-Bureij Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, news reports, and al-Kahlut.
Al-Kahlut told CPJ via messaging app that he was 200 meters from the border fence, filming the protest along with three other journalists, when he received a phone call.
“I picked up the phone and there was no talk on the other end of the line, but as soon as I picked up, I was shot in my left leg. I was wearing a vest clearly marked with the word ‘press’,” he added.
Pictures posted by al-Kahlut on social media show that he was carried away by paramedics. Al-Kahlut told CPJ that he was transferred for treatment to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah. He posted on his personal Facebook account that he was discharged the same day.
Also on August 2, Hatem Omar, a photographer for China’s Xinhua News Agency, was hit by rubber bullets in both legs while covering protests east of the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and news reports.
Omar posted pictures on his personal Facebook account showing paramedics taking him on a stretcher to a medical tent. In the text accompanying the pictures, Omar said that he was well. The same pictures show that he was wearing a vest clearly marked with the word “press.”
The Israel Defense Forces didn’t immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.