Anadolu Agency journalist survives Israeli fire

Ali Jadallah, 29, a photojournalist working with Anadolu Agency, is still squirming in pain after being hit by a rubber-coated metal bullet, fired by the Israeli army, while covering a rally in Gaza Strip on Aug. 30.

The photojournalist has been fourth time lucky over past more than one year, to survive teargas shells and bullets, allegedly fired by Israeli forces targeting him and other journalists in the field.

In the latest incident, on Aug. 30 he was accompanying the agency's team as usual to cover protests, near the eastern fence of Gaza city.

Jadallah said he was carrying his equipment, signifying for everyone that he was a photojournalist doing his professional duty.

Since March 2018, on Fridays hundreds of Palestinians across the Gaza Strip march toward the security fence, to participate in the anti-occupation protests, known as the Great March of Return.

"Soon I arrived at the point, where protesters had gathered and began taking some pictures, I felt something hard hitting my head. I lost vision and fell on the ground," Jadallah told Anadolu Agency.

"The pain was severe. Colleagues who carried me thought I was dead. Blood was flowing from my forehead," he said, while narrating the incident.

Jadallah had lost consciousness. He was immediately taken to a field medical point to receive first aid. Later, he was shifted to Al-Shifa Medical Complex in western Gaza city.

A cut mark that took 12 stitches to heal is visible in the middle of forehead, reminding his narrow escape from death.

Doctors say he would need a plastic surgery after recovery to attend to the large scar.

Even a fortnight later, the photojournalist is suffering from severe pain in his head. He complaints about constant dizziness, lack of appetite and loss of sleep due to constant pain.

-Not first brush with injury

This is not Jadallah's first brush with injury. In less than two years, he was injured three times earlier, while covering Gaza protests.

First time, a shrapnel from an Israeli explosive device hit his right palm in March 2018. Since then, he is unable to use his right hand fully, as doctors diagnosed that the shrapnel has damaged some tendons and nerves.

He again sustained a minor injury in June, 2018 in his left hand, when Israeli forces fired live ammunition.

In May 2019, he was hit by a tear gas canister in east of Gaza, which pierced his armor, causing burns and bruises.

-Israeli forces target journalists

Jadallah believed that the Israeli army has been targeting Palestinian photojournalists deliberately to prevent them from reporting demonstrations.

"Journalists document Israeli crimes committed against peaceful demonstrators in Gaza. Their pictures tell hundreds of stories to the world. This what the Israeli army wants to prevent. They target journalists continuously, he said.

He called on the institutions, defending rights of journalists, to hold Israel accountable for targeting newsmen. He also asked for tangible steps to protect Palestinian journalists from Israeli attacks.

Palestinian journalists covering the weekly protests against the decades-long Israeli occupation and Gaza blockade have been complaining that Israeli snipers stationed along the borders have been targeted them.

Since the protests began in March last year, two journalists have been shot and dozens injured by Israeli gunfire so far near Gaza-Israel buffer zone.

According to Salama Maarouf, a Palestinian government spokesman in Gaza, around 360 journalists have been injured by Israeli army fire, while covering Gaza rallies.

Demonstrators demand an end to Israel's 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has shattered the coastal enclave's economy and deprived its two million inhabitants of many basic amenities.

Since the Gaza rallies began last year, nearly 270 protesters have been killed and thousands more wounded by Israeli troops deployed near the buffer zone.

Source: Anadolu Agency