The Israeli army on Saturday denied deliberately targeting a Palestinian journalist who was shot while covering killed while covering mass protests along the Israeli border the previous day and said it was investigating the incident.
Hundreds, including Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, attended the funeral of well-known Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja who died from a gunshot wound he sustained while filming Friday in an area engulfed in thick black smoke from protesters setting tires on fire.
Israeli troops opened fire from across the border, killing at least nine Palestinians and wounding 491 others in the second mass border protest in eight days. The deaths brought to at least 31 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire since last week.
Murtaja was over 100 meters (yards) from the border, wearing a flak jacket marked “press” and holding his camera when he was shot in an exposed area just below the armpit.
In a statement released later Saturday, the IDF said it did not deliberately target journalists and it was investigating the incident.
“For weeks we have been warning against coming close to the fence and calling on Gaza’s residents not to obey the orders of the terror group Hamas and refrain from terror activities and other violent acts against Israel,” the IDF said.
“Despite this since last Friday the IDF has been dealing with tens of thousands of people approaching the fence, all instigated by Hamas.”
“In response IDF forces are acting under clear orders designed for these circumstances. The IDF does not deliberately target journalists. The circumstances in which the journalist was supposedly hit by IDF fire is not know and they are being investigated,” the army said.
Palestinian men wave their national flags as smoke billows from burning tires at the Israel-Gaza border during a protest, east of Gaza City in the Gaza Strip, on April 6, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)
“There were attempts to carry out acts of terrorism … using the smoke [from burning tires] for cover,” he said, but the IDF had ensured the fence was not breached.
“The army did its job,” said Manelis. “The fence was not breached and [Israel’s] sovereignty was not harmed.”
Friday’s demonstration was the second of what Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror group said would be several weeks of “March of Return” protests which Hamas leaders say ultimately aim to see the removal of the border and the liberation of Palestine.
Times of Israel