Zionist Union MK Zouheir Bahloul called Sunday for the IDF soldier who fatally shot a Gazan photographer on Friday to be placed on trial, terming the shooting “intolerable.”
“It is the right and duty of journalists and media personnel to cover [events] and if there is injury to them it is a crime, it is intolerable,” Bahloul told The Jerusalem Post, referring to the shooting of photographer Yaser Mortaja during Friday’s protests along the Gaza border. “It is forbidden to do such things, and whoever does that needs to be placed on trial. It is a deed that is not done, and an exacting investigation is needed about how you can shoot a journalist.”
The killing of the 30-year-old photographer who was wearing a protective vest marked “PRESS” is quickly becoming a symbol among Arabs of Israeli brutality in confronting the Gaza demonstrations.
MK Ahmed Tibi termed the shooting of Mortaja a “liquidation” and dismissed assertions by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman that it was justified since the Gazan was operating a photographic drone above soldiers.
“Since when is operating such a drone terrorism?” Tibi asked. Ashraf Abu Amra, a Gazan photographer who was with Mortaja at the time he was shot, said Mortaja was not operating a drone.
The IDF said in a statement issued Saturday: “The IDF does not intentionally target journalists. The circumstances in which journalists were allegedly hit by IDF fire are not familiar to the IDF and are being looked into.”
In remarks to the Post on Sunday, Tibi called for Gaza Strip residents to continue protesting along the border with Israel, saying demonstrations like those that began March 30 have the power to sway international public opinion and “push the occupation into a corner.”
“I support these protests, they are nonviolent and legitimate against the siege and the occupation,” he said. “It is necessary to continue these demonstrations, and I support that there will also be demonstrations in the West Bank.”
Tibi spoke two days after nine Gazans were killed in the second-largest protest since the start of what organizers call the Great March of Return, a series of demonstrations aimed at highlighting hopes of refugees and their descendants for a return to former homes inside Israel. The IDF said it faced petrol bombs and stones Friday and was compelled to act to safeguard the border fence and protect Israeli communities from penetrations. It said it uses warnings and other methods of riot-dispersal and that soldiers fire live rounds in a precise and measured way only as a last resort. But B’Tselem – The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, said the use of lethal force Friday was unjustified and illegal.
TIBI SAID: “There is no doubt that the more time passes with [the protests] staying nonviolent, the more they will enlist [world] public opinion and push the occupation into a corner despite the immoral support of the United States for the lethal gunfire.”
Tibi said he was calling for the protests to be nonviolent, adding: “Violence will ruin everything and give the occupation ammunition for wider slaughter.”
He termed the demonstrations “a strategic change, and it is important that it comes from Gaza. It has been years that the Palestinians have been calling for wide nonviolent demonstrations, and this time it is being put into action. I congratulate the organizers.”
Tibi termed Israeli public opinion “a hard nut to crack.”
“It is important that Israeli public opinion see the pictures of live fire against protesters and liquidation of journalists,” he said. “The response will depend on how the Israeli media behaves. Maybe it will prompt discussion.”
Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka called on Arab citizens to step up solidarity protests with Gaza, including by nonviolently blocking roads to disrupt traffic in the country.
“I want to see things expanding to the West Bank and inside Israel,” he said. “Inside Israel there should be protests against the occupation and against the continuation of the siege and for a just peace. I hope Jews and Arabs will demonstrate. I even call for blocking roads in a nonviolent way inside Israel. This is a legitimate means of protest.”
“The ultra-Orthodox and the disabled do it, why shouldn’t we?” Zahalka asked.
“The government of Israel does what it wants,” he said. “If there are demonstrations inside Israel, they may restrain the government and prevent the continuation of the killing, because right now they are killing as if they are hunting – simply hunting people as if they are hunting ducks.”
About 2,000 people attended a solidarity rally with Gaza in Sakhnin on Saturday. Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen told the crowd: “Popular struggle is the means for liberating the Palestinian people from occupation. History proves that this means succeeded in many places such as India under the leadership of Mahatma Ghandi and it will succeed also against the Israeli occupation.”
The Netanyahu government that deepens the war crimes and shoots demonstrators dead is responsible for every drop of blood shed in Gaza and for the continuation of the bloodshed.”
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