MEMO’s Gaza correspondent, Motasem Dalloul, is recovering in hospital after he was shot by Israeli fire while covering the Great March of Return.
Speaking in his first appearance since undergoing intensive treatment for his wounds, Motasem said that he was shot because Israel “doesn’t want anyone to disclose its brutality”. The Israeli bullets penetrated his back, chest, lungs and liver while he was reporting on the March of Return protests on Friday 11 May 2018 along with “20 foreign and local journalists”. He was quickly taken to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City where he has now undergone all necessary operations.
Motasem was one of many local and international journalists who were shot while covering the Great March of Return. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), four other journalists were injured on that Friday. The CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Coordinator, Sherif Mansour, said that “Israeli authorities must investigate the shooting of Dalloul and take all measures to ensure that the media can safely cover protests.”
In April, Palestinian journalists Yasser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu-Hussein were shot dead by Israeli snipers while covering events near the Gaza-Israel border. In an interview with MEMO just weeks before he was killed, Yasser stressed that “Israeli forces don’t shy away from targeting journalists, because they worry about the truth coming out.”
The Great March of Return has seen scores of Palestinian protesters killed by Israeli live fire. Between 30 March and 15 May 2018, 115 Palestinians were killed, 65 of them in one day while protesting the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem on 14 May. An additional 13,000 were injured either by live fire or suffocated as a result of tear gas dropped on protesters.
Israel’s response to the Great March of Return, which were held in the weeks running up to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, has received widespread condemnation. Last week the UN Human Rights Council voted to establish a commission of enquiry into Israel’s killing of protestors and journalists. Israel’s foreign ministry rejected the Council’s decision, a move which Hamas spokesperson, Abdullatif Al-Qanoua, said emphasises Tel Aviv’s brutality and disregard for UN and international institutions.
Participants in the Great March of Return were demonstrating to demand that Palestinian refugees be granted the right to return to their towns and villages in historic Palestine. More than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced by Israeli forces in 1948 to make way for the formation of the state of Israel.