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Norwegian charity slams Israel's killing of civilian protesters, journalist in Gaza

Palestinian journalists light candles to commemorate Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, who was martyred by Israeli soldiers during "Great March of Return", during a protest in Nablus, West Bank on 7 April, 2018 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian journalists light candles to commemorate Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, who was killed by Israeli soldiers on 7 April 2018 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]

A leading Norwegian NGO has expressed its "outrage at the killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza by the Israeli military, as they protest for their rights, on their land", urging "accountability".

In a press release issued today, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) described "the deadly force used by the Israeli military against the people of Gaza" as "a gross violation of their protection under humanitarian and human rights law".

Yaser Murtaja, the Palestinian journalist killed by an Israeli sniper last Friday, had been scheduled to begin some work for NRC the day after he was killed, the group revealed.

"I talked to Yaser on Wednesday evening by phone, after he came back from the Access Restricted Zone in Gaza where Palestinians were demonstrating," said NRC's Media Adviser in the Middle East, Karl Schembri. "We talked about the stories we wanted to cover – families affected by violence, as well as children again exposed to trauma and their ensuing nightmares."

"Two days later, he was killed by an Israeli sniper while peacefully observing the demonstrations."

He was killed doing his job: recording his people's right to protest for their human rights.

In one of the cases documented by NRC, Jehad Abo Jamous, a 30-year-old salesman, was shot in the head while attending the march with his wife and children. "We went there to prove to the Israelis that we're steadfast in our connection to land and our desire to return one day," said a relative of Jehad's.

Sima, the 2 1/2 year-old-daughter of Omar Abu Samour who was killed on 30 March 2018, continues to ask about her father. Omar was a farmer, and he was killed during his work in Khan Yunis in Gaza, in the morning of the first day of the 'Great March of Return'. [Ahmed Mashharawi]

NRC noted that Jehad was "the sole provider for the family; supporting his wife, four children, four visually-impaired sisters, two brothers, a blind father, and his mother." "Now we have no help and no source of income," said Jehad's wife. "May Allah help us."

Read: ICC warns Israel over killing of protesters in Gaza

Another Palestinian killed was farmer Amer Samour, targeted early in the morning on Friday 30 March as he gathered crops "700 metres from the border fence", well before protests even began.

"Amer's wife says their 2½-year-old daughter keeps asking about where he is as she cannot understand that he is gone," NRC added.

"The ongoing and unjustifiable border closure and extreme economic deprivation of civilians in Gaza amounts to nothing short of collective punishment," said NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland.

And now the indiscriminate shooting at peaceful protesters on their land – while running away, while waving flags, while praying, while reporting, while giving first aid and while working on their land – is abominable. This cannot be allowed to continue, and those responsible must be held to account.

Read more: Why Israel Feels Threatened by Popular Resistance in Palestine

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