Sunday, March 07, 2021

Journalist shot whilst filming soldiers needs constructive facial surgery

By Jessica Purkiss - April 18, 2013
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Aida camp] [attack on journalists] [injuries] [Israeli violence]

Photo by Mohammed Al-Azraq.

At around 5:30 pm on April 9 Israeli soldiers arrived at the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem and began to advance. At that time there was no protest happening. Mohammad al-Azza, born and raised in Aida, works as a journalist documenting the constant incursions of Israeli soldiers into the camp. As is Mohammed’s line of work he was filming the soldiers' arrival from the balcony of the refugee center, Lajee, where he also volunteers teaching photography and journalism.

The soldiers shouted in Arabic that he should stop filming.

As a talented and passionate journalist Mohammed’s role is to document what happens in Aida, which rarely makes the mainstream news and so he replied,

 “No, I will not go! As you have a gun and shoot at children, I have a camera and I’m taking pictures—I do nothing to you!”  according to Mohammed’s account told to +972 reporters.

After further threats Mohammed began to turn away from the door but before he had a chance he was shot in the cheek with rubber coated steel bullet

After the soldiers became more threatening Mohammed decided to go back inside the center. He opened the door out onto the balcony to continue taking photos of the soldier’s incursion.

In the meantime the camp’s youth began to through stones at the advancing soldiers. Mohammed continued to document the events. 

After further threats Mohammed began to turn away from the door but before he had a chance he was shot in the cheek with rubber coated steel bullet. The bullet penetrated his right cheek. 

Mohammed was shot whilst in the same refugee youth center that in January saw the death of a 15 year old boy shot outside its door. The teenager, Saleh Elamareen, was shot in the head with a suspected dumdum bullet.  At the time of shooting there was also no protest happening. 

Just over a month later on February 25, two young boys were also shot in Aida. 12 year old Mohammad Khalid Al-Kirdi was shot in the chest and leg whilst 16 year Odai Sarhan was shot in the head, both with live ammunition. 

Mohammed’s reply to the soldier’s demands is a truth close to the heart of the residents of Aida camp.

Palestine Monitor recently reported on the sharp rise of arrests in the camp by Israeli soldiers. In a single month 16 youths were arrested in the middle of the night. Their ages ranged from 15- 29. Mohammed Al-Azza’s brother, Saed Al-Azza, a youth in his final year of studying to be a chef was one of those.

Mohammed’s presence could be construed a threat to the Israeli soldiers. As a known cameraman within the camp the soldiers would have recognized him as a journalist. The shooting of Mohammed needs to be answered by Israel who has coincidently stayed silent on the matter.

Today Mohammed remains in hospital awaiting reconstructive surgery. 

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