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International journalists’ body accuses Israel of ‘lies and cover-up’ over killing

Funeral procession of Gazan video journalist and photographer Yaser Murtaja, killed by Israeli snipers despite wearing a vest marked ‘PRESS’, while covering the The Great March of Return on April 6, 2018 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]
Funeral procession of Gazan video journalist and photographer Yaser Murtaja, killed by Israeli snipers despite wearing a vest marked ‘PRESS’, while covering the The Great March of Return on April 6, 2018 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has accused the Israeli government of “fabricating lies to justify murder”, in a statement responding to the killing of Yaser Murtaja on 6 April.

IFJ hit back at unsubstantiated claims made by Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman that Murtaja was a secret member of Hamas’ armed wing Al-Qassam Brigades.

Noting that the IFJ had previously documented a complaint made by Murtaja in 2015 concerning mistreatment by Hamas-controlled security forces in Gaza, the global body also referred to media reports that the US State Department had recently vetted the journalist to receive a grant.

IFJ General-Secretary Anthony Bellanger accused Lieberman of engaging in propaganda and a cover-up.

“It is clear that after Israeli soldiers murdered a journalist the Defence Minister is more interested in spouting propaganda and engaging in a cover-up than in carrying out a thorough and transparent investigation and bringing Yasser’s killers to justice.”

Yaser Murtaja: the Martyr who sought to expose the ugly reality of Israel’s occupation

He added: “It is time for the Israeli authorities to stop fabricating lies to justify murder and it is time to stop targeting Palestinian journalists.”

On Friday, Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja was shot in the abdomen while covering the protests near Gaza’s border with Israel. At the time he was wearing a blue flak jacket with the word “PRESS” clearly written on it. He died from his wounds in hospitals the following day.

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