IDF Urged to Punish Soldier Who Deliberately Shot, Wounded Photographer

Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the action of an Israeli soldier who deliberately shot a Palestinian photographer in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet during an incursion by the Israeli Defence Forces into the Aida refugee camp, 2 km north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on 8 April.

The incident took place at around 5:30 p.m., when Mohamed Al-Azza, a photographer for Palestine News Network (PNN), was taking photos of the Israeli soldiers from the Lajee Centre, a children's educational centre inside the camp.

Azza was taken to Beit Jala hospital after being hit in the right cheekbone by the bullet, and underwent an operation that evening. He is expected to remain in the hospital for about 10 days.

Reporters Without Borders urges the IDF to investigate this deliberate shooting. The soldier who fired the shot should be severely punished. The complete impunity enjoyed by IDF soldiers responsible for violence against journalists must end.

Reached in hospital, Azza gave Reporters Without Borders the following account of the incident:

"I was on the second-floor balcony of the Lajee Centre, which is near the camp entrance. I was in a good location to photograph the soldiers as they advanced into the camp. A soldier saw me and shouted that I should go home. I replied: 'Why? I am just taking photos.' Despite his orders, I continued taking photos and that annoyed them.

"At a certain point, I went inside but continued taking photos through a window and a half-open door. That is when I was hit in the face. A friend who was there helped me down but when we wanted to leave the building, the soldiers opened fire on the door again. My friend shouted to the soldiers that I was badly injured and needed to be taken to hospital. When they saw the blood on my face, they let us pass."



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