A Palestinian freelance photographer who was shot by Israeli soldiers while covering a demonstration in the occupied West Bank has drawn international attention, with journalists voicing solidarity by posting photos of themselves wearing eye patches or covering their eyes.
Muath Amarneh, 35, is being treated in Israel’s Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem since he was struck in the left eye on Friday after Israeli occupation forces used live ammunition to disperse Palestinian protestors in the village of Surif, close to Hebron in the occupied southern West Bank.
An online campaign using hashtags that include “MuathEye”, “EyeofTruth” and “MuathAmarneh” was launched and trending following a video and photos of Amarneh being carried away with blood flowing from his left eye.
The demonstrators were protesting what they say were confiscations of village land by the Israeli soldiers.
The moment an Israeli sniper shot Palestinian journalist Mo'ath Amarnah in the face at a protest in occupied Hebron yesterday.
Amarnah later had his eye removed during surgery. pic.twitter.com/6cOIHFCLNI
— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) November 17, 2019
— Paul Jreish 🇱🇧 ♏️ (@PJreish) November 17, 2019
Relatives of the photojournalist say they were informed by the doctors at Hadassah Medical Centre that his left eye could not be saved and needed to be removed as a result of the injury.
Despite Amarneh’s colleagues confirming that he was targeted by Israeli forces, Israeli occupation forces claim he wasn’t targeted and they were only using “nonlethal crowd-dispersal weapons” at the protest.
The 35-year-old told AFP news agency yesterday that he was stood to the side wearing a flak jacket with clear press markings and a helmet.
He said: “Suddenly I felt something hit my eye, I thought it was a rubber bullet or a stone. I put my hand to my eye and found nothing, I couldn’t see and my eye was completely gone.”
Prominent journalists and Palestinian activists uploaded pictures of themselves with one eye covered in support of Amarneh and encouraged others to do the same to raise awareness of Israeli violations against press freedoms especially while covering anti-occupation protests.
Deck Moore, deputy foreign editor at the National, posted on Twitter: “The eyes of truth will never be blinded. Today, dozens of Palestinian journalists protested the shooting of Muath Amarneh,who lost his eye.”
"The eyes of truth will never be blinded."
Today, dozens of Palestinian journalists protested the shooting of Muath Amarneh, who lost his eye after an Israeli soldier fired at him last Friday.
— Jack Moore (@JFXM) November 17, 2019
Senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official Hanan Ashrawi wrote: “We will continue to bear witness. In solidarity & affection.”
#MuathAmarneh, the Palestinian photojournalist was shot in the eye by Israeli occupation soldiers in Hebron Al-Khalil on November 15. We will continue to bear witness. In solidarity & affection. #MuathEye. #عين_معاذ. pic.twitter.com/rv8qxMGoh8
— Hanan Ashrawi (@DrHananAshrawi) November 17, 2019
As a photographer who spent months in Gaza documenting the horrific things I witnessed there and the thousands of beautiful people that I encountered there during my journey, I stand with them in protesting the attack on Muath Amarneh #MuathEye #EyeofTruth #عين_معاذ pic.twitter.com/R7pbns1hNH
— Denny Cormier (@santafeez) November 17, 2019
Press freedom is seriously restricted in the occupied territories, with Palestine 134th out of 180 on the 2018 World Press Freedom index.
Yousef Alhelou, a Palestinian freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker shared images of the 9 o’clock News Bulletins on Palestine TV during which presenters also covered their eyes in solidarity.
💥 Anchors at Palestine TV at 9 o’clock News Bulletins show their solidarity with Palestinian photojournalist Mua’az Amarnah who lost his eye in an Israeli shooting that was aimed at him while covering an Israeli attack on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. pic.twitter.com/8uqkKibfe0
— Yousef Alhelou (@YousefAlhelou) November 17, 2019
In Gaza and the West Bank, solidarity protests were held with placards bearing the words: “The eyes of truth will never be blinded.”
https://twitter.com/DaysofPalestine/status/1196048940422094849Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Amarneh and condemned the shooting, pledging to ensure he gets the best medical care following his injury.
The incident has also been condemned by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), a global advocacy group aiming to safeguard media freedom. It called on the UN to adopt a convention that ensures the protection of all journalists.
“Once again, the IFJ deplores the attacks on Palestinian journalists by the Israeli military,” said Anthony Bellanger, the head of the organisation.
“It is now time for the UN General Assembly to adopt the Convention for the Protection and Safety of Journalists, so that the impunity enjoyed by predators of press freedom and democracy can end in Israel, as elsewhere.”
At least 60 journalists have been targeted with live bullets at the hands of Israeli soldiers so far this year, 43 others have been injured by sound bombs, while 170 were beaten or banned from covering events.
Ten were arrested and 18 journalists are being held in Israeli prisons.