Thursday, 11 June 2015

Photographer barred from treatment after being shot by Israeli forces


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel has barred a Palestinian photographer allegedly shot in the eye by Israeli forces from entering occupied East Jerusalem for specialist treatment, the injured photographer told AFP on Wednesday.

Nidal Shtayyeh, who works for Chinese news agency Xinhua, was wounded while covering a small demonstration at Huwarra checkpoint near the northern West Bank city of Nablus on May 16.

As he was covering the rally, Shtayyeh was hit in the face by a rubber bullet which entered his eye, causing serious damage, he told AFP.

"The march was peaceful and no stones were thrown, no photographers were taking any pictures," he said, accusing soldiers of firing sound bombs at the photographers without any provocation.

"I raised my camera to my right eye to take a picture, but a soldier shot me in my left eye with his rifle, and the rubber bullet went through my gas mask's glass eye cover and into my eye."

An Italian camerawoman was also injured during the same demonstration which came as Palestinians commemorated 67 years since the "Nakba," or "catastrophe," when an estimated 760,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

At the time, Israeli forces said at least 100 Palestinians had been throwing stones and petrol bombs, and that the forces had responded with "riot dispersal means."

Shtayyeh's injury comes as rights groups criticize Israel for disproportionate use of force against unarmed civilians during such demonstrations.

While crowd control weapons are intended to be non-lethal, many methods used by Israeli forces can cause death, severe injury, and damage to property, according to Israeli rights group B'Tselem.

Shtayyeh was rushed to Rafidiya hospital in Nablus for initial treatment but was prescribed specialist help at St John's eye hospital in occupied East Jerusalem.

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