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Global solidarity with Palestinian photographer shot in the eye

A Palestinian freelance photographer who was shot by Israeli soldiers while covering a demonstration in the occupied West Bank has drawn international attention

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.

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.

Report: Israel’s targeting of Palestinian photojournalists increasing

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.”

“He was wearing press markings. 60 have been hit this year. #MuathEye #عين_معاذ

Senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official Hanan Ashrawi wrote: “We will continue to bear witness. In solidarity & affection.”

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.

In Gaza and the West Bank, solidarity protests were held with placards bearing the words: “The eyes of truth will never be blinded.”

G Media photo-journalist Muath Amarneh is being carried away after being shot with rubber bullet from his eye by Israeli forces during a protest against separation wall and Jewish settlements in Hebron, West Bank on 15 November 2019. [Mamoun Wazwaz - Anadolu Agency]

G Media photo-journalist Muath Amarneh is being carried away after being shot with rubber bullet from his eye by Israeli forces during a protest against separation wall and Jewish settlements in Hebron, West Bank on 15 November 2019. [Mamoun Wazwaz – Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian 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.

READ: Gaza stands in solidarity with Palestinian journalist Muath Amarneh

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