The Israeli occupation of Palestine is based on misrepresentation and the falsification of history. It simply could not bear the thought that a journalist’s camera would show the world things as they really are; that the victims are the same, and the executioners are the same.
Who in their right mind on either side of a struggle thinks that a journalist with a camera is a threat to the occupation army with its bullets and bombs and the most lethal and developed military aircraft in the world? That being the case, when we examine the photographs that Yaser Murtaja has taken, we can see why the Israelis think that his camera is a weapon capable of turning the balance of power in the field and perhaps resolving the conflict.
Yaser Murtaja was shot by an Israeli sniper last Friday, and died of his wounds on Saturday, while covering a Palestinian protest against the brutal military occupation. He was aware both of the importance of his work and the risks that uncovering the ugly reality of the Israeli occupation entailed. He was also aware that the Israelis would target journalists as much as the unarmed civilians during the Great March of Return in the besieged Gaza Strip.
It is a fact that Israel does not shy away from making journalists “legitimate” targets, and carrying out its threat to kill them; remember Tom Hurndall, the young man with a camera shot by an Israeli soldier in 2003? And British cameraman James Miller, shot and killed a couple of months after Hurndall? The Israelis do not care about adding more names to its list of media victims, even if this is a clear violation of international law. The arrogance of Israeli colonialism, which places itself above and outside such laws and conventions that the rest of the world are expected to abide by, is matched only by the ignorance and hypocrisy of those in the West and, it must be said now, in the Middle East, who support them in their colonial occupation.
As for the Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere, Murtaja agreed with their struggle to establish the truth. That struggle is necessary to preserve national values and protect the just cause from being dissolved by the Israelis and their allies. It continues in the full awareness that the latter think nothing of shedding Palestinian blood; sadly, this includes those who, until very recently, were supportive of the people of Palestine and their cause.
Over the past few years, Murtaja used his lenses while accompanying the aid convoys famed for breaking the siege imposed on Gaza, including the “Miles of Smiles” convoys of which I was part. He was a witness to the great humanitarian achievements of such efforts, and conveyed his testimony to the whole world.
Yaser Murtaja, may the Almighty have mercy on his soul, was killed while working purely for the sake of God. He sacrificed his blood for his land, people and sanctities; he was a witness to the crimes of Israel’s occupation and wanted to let the world know the truth about Israeli state terrorism, and the identity of the land-thieves, child-killers and blatant liars behind it. The Israeli occupation is ugly and deadly, but Murtaja’s faithful lens captured it with honesty and integrity. It was his hope that his photographs would reach trustworthy eyes, leading to the establishment of justice for his people and the prosecution of a ruthless and tyrannical enemy.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.