Israel Defense Forces demolish a Palestinian house in Ramallah on June 8, 2023. IDF soldiers shot and injured two journalists covering the demolition with rubber-coated bullets. (Reuters/Mohammed Torokman)

Israel Defense Forces shoot 2 Palestinian photojournalists with rubber bullets

New York, June 8, 2023—Israel Defense Force officials must investigate the Wednesday, June 7, shootings of photojournalists Momen Somrain and Rabi al-Munir with rubber bullets and make public its findings, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday. 

IDF soldiers shot the journalists with rubber-coated bullets while they reported on an IDF demolition of a terrorism suspect’s house in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, according to news reports, statements by IDF officials, and the local press freedom group Palestinian Journalists Syndicate

Somrain, who works for several independent Palestinian news outlets including Filistin Post, was shot in the head, and al-Munir, with the regional satellite channel Arab TV, was shot in the abdomen. Both journalists were hospitalized and are in stable condition as of Thursday evening.

“Last month marked the first anniversary of the IDF killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and Israeli forces’ shootings of two photojournalists with rubber bullets show that her colleagues still work under tremendous risk,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “The IDF soldiers who shot Momen Somrain and Rabi al-Munir must be identified and held accountable.”

“An initial inquiry suggests that a Palestinian photojournalist in the area of the violent riots was injured, likely by a rubber bullet,” the IDF wrote in a statement on Twitter, which said the incident was under review.

Somrain’s uncle, Mohamed Somrain, also covered the event as a reporter and told news outlets that he saw IDF soldiers firing rubber bullets and tear gas at nearly 20 journalists wearing press insignias. He said Somrain was wearing a jacket clearly marked “Press” when he was shot.

CPJ’s emails to representatives of Somrain and Munir and the IDF spokesperson for North America did not receive any replies. In its statement on Twitter, the IDF wrote that it “makes every effort to prevent any harm to non-combatants during operational activity & to allow freedom of movement and the press.”

In May 2023, CPJ published “Deadly Pattern,” a report on the Israeli military’s killing of 20 journalists in 22 years—and how no one has been held accountable for those deaths.