By Middle East Affairs and Reuters
A Palestinian journalist died Wednesday after Israeli troops shot him earlier this month while covering protests near the Gaza-Israel border, Palestinian health officials said.
Ahmed Abu Hussein, 24, worked for Al-Shaab radio station in Gaza and was shot April 13. According to Reuters, witnesses said he wore a protective vest marked “Press.”
Hussein is the 38th Palestinian to be killed during the “Great March of Return” protests, which began March 30 as a right of return of Palestinians refugees and their descendants to homes in what is now Israel.
He’s also the second journalist. The first was Yaser Murtaja, 30, a cameraman for Palestinian Ain Media. Murtaja was shot April 6 during protests and died the following day. The Israeli military said in response to Murtaja’s death that it did not intend to shoot journalists.
The health officials said a bullet penetrated Abu Hussein’s side. He was moved from Gaza to a hospital in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and then transferred to a hospital in Israel, where he died.
An Israeli military spokeswoman had no immediate comment on Abu Hussein’s death.
According to Haaretz, Hussein was stationed at a permissible distance from the border fence when he was shot. Two days later, the news agency said, Israel gave permission for him to be brought through the country and to a hospital in Ramallah so he could receive medical treatment.
The Palestinian journalists’ union accused Israel of “deliberately” targeting Abu Hussein and Murtaja, vowing to seek to bring “leaders of the occupation” to justice.
Israel’s live-fire response to the protests has drawn international criticism.
Doctors in the area are saying they haven’t seen bullet wounds like this since Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014. The aid group Doctors Without Borders released a report April 19 that said patients have “devastating injuries of an unusual severity, which are extremely complex to treat. The injuries sustained by patients will leave most with serious, long-term physical disabilities.”
The organization went on to say that the injuries “include an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist.”
Another group, Medical Aid for Palestinians, has voiced similar observations. One surgeon told the group: “The bullets used are causing injuries local medics say they have not seen since 2014. The entrance wound is small. The exit wound is devastating, causing gross comminution of bone and destruction of soft tissue.”
Israel has faced criticism from the global community for its method of protecting the borders during the protests. Israel, however, blames Hamas, the armed Islamist group that controls Gaza, and maintains that most of the Palestinians killed during the protests have been militants trying to ignite violence.
Israel says it has been warning Gazans not to approach the border fence and that it is doing what is necessary to stop the barrier from being damaged or breached.
The Palestinians said Israel, which has deployed army sharpshooters along the frontier, used “excessive force against unarmed protesters.” Some protesters have hurled stones and rolled burning tires towards the fence.