Beirut, November 18, 2019 — The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned Israeli security forces’ injuring of Palestinian photographer Moath Amarneh and called on Israeli authorities to immediately open an investigation into the incident and hold those responsible into account.
On November 15, an Israeli soldier fired a rubber coated bullet in the West Bank town of Surif, and shrapnel from the bullet hit Amarneh, a photographer for the London-based news agency Sanad and for the West Bank-based media production company GMedia, in his left eye, according to news reports and a statement from Sanad.
According to a statement by local press freedom group MADA, Amarneh was covering a protest by Surif residents against Israel’s plan to seize Palestinian land for the construction of a wall when some young Palestinians began to throw stones at Israeli soldiers, who opened fire at them.
Amarneh told local news website Al-Dostor that he was on his way to a car to leave the scene when a bullet fired by Israeli forces hit a nearby object and exploded, sending shrapnel into his eye.
Amarneh was wearing a helmet and a protective vest marked “Press” when he was injured, according to a video of the journalist posted on Facebook by his brother, Tareq Amarneh.
Amarneh was taken to Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, and was then transferred to the Arab Society Hospital in Bethlehem, and then to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, where he underwent surgery to remove shrapnel from his eye that was close to his brain, according to a statement by local press freedom group MADA.
He is at risk of permanently losing sight in his left eye, according to news reports.
“Israeli security forces have repeatedly shown utter disregard for the lives and safety of journalists, as seen by the severe injury suffered by Palestinian photographer Moath Amarneh,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “We call on Israeli authorities to immediately open an investigation into the incident and hold the soldiers responsible to account.”
The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.
Yesterday, Israeli security forces fired tear gas into a group of journalists who were staging a protest over Amarneh’s injuries, and briefly detained two demonstrators, according to news reports.
Dozens of Palestinian journalists have been injured and at least two, Ahmed Abu Hussein and Yaser Murtaja, have been killed covering protests in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the Gaza border protests in March 2018, according to CPJ research.