Palestinians bury their dead in Gaza, Israel kills nine in border clashes Saturday

Mourners and journalists carry the body of Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja, during his funeral in Gaza City on April 7, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 07 April 2018

Palestinians bury their dead in Gaza, Israel kills nine in border clashes Saturday

  • Among those killed on Friday was Yasser Murtaja, 30, a photographer with the Gaza-based Ain Media agency, who died from his wounds after being shot, the health ministry said.
  • An AFP picture taken after he was wounded showed Murtaja wearing a press vest as he received treatment.

Gaza City: Palestinian mourners in the Gaza Strip on Saturday buried their dead, including a journalist, after Israeli troops killed nine during the latest border clashes in a week of bloodshed.
Thousands of protesters approached the border fence around Gaza for a second Friday in a row, burning tires and hurling stones at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and live ammunition.
In addition to the nine dead, at least 491 were wounded by Israeli gunfire, the health ministry in the Hamas-run enclave said.
Israel said there were around 20,000 protesters and that they were seeking to breach the border.
Numbers were down from the previous Friday, when tens of thousands approached the border in demonstrations that saw Israeli forces kill 19 Palestinians, making it the bloodiest day in Gaza since a 2014 war.
The demonstrations largely abated by Saturday, but three Palestinians were wounded by Israeli forces in a small clash east of Gaza City in the afternoon, one of them seriously, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
No Israelis were injured on either day and the latest deaths have sparked fresh calls for an investigation.
Among those killed on Friday was Yasser Murtaja, 30, a photographer with the Gaza-based Ain Media agency, who died from his wounds after being shot, the health ministry said.
Witnesses said he was close to the front of the protests in southern Gaza when he was hit.
An AFP picture taken after he was wounded showed Murtaja wearing a press vest as he received treatment.
His brother Motazem, also a journalist, said he was next to him when he was shot. “The target was very clearly journalists,” he said.
Israel’s army said it “does not intentionally target journalists.”
“The circumstances in which journalists were allegedly hit by Israeli Defense Force (IDF) fire are not familiar to the IDF, and are being looked into,” it said in a statement.
Murtaja’s body was taken from the hospital to his home in Gaza City on Saturday morning, with dozens of journalists following, many fighting back tears.
It was wrapped in a Palestinian flag, with a press flak jacket placed on his stomach.
Ismail Haniya, the head of Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, attended the funeral and said that journalists were attacked by Israel while trying to show a “true picture of a blockaded, downtrodden people.”
In the West Bank political capital of Ramallah, around 50 Palestinian journalists held a vigil for Murtaja.
Christophe Deloire, secretary general of watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), said Murtaja was “obviously the victim of an intentional shot” and that his organization “condemns with indignation the deliberate shootings of the Israeli army against journalists.”
Deloire urged an independent investigation of the incident.
The Foreign Press Association operating in Israel and the Palestinian territories urged the Israeli army “to show restraint in areas where journalists are operating and to conduct a fast and open investigation into this incident.”
The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate said five other reporters were also shot and wounded by the Israeli army during Friday’s protests, despite wearing clothes clearly identifying them as journalists.


Emotions stir in Jerusalem as HBO’s ‘Our Boys’ hits local airwaves

Updated 1 min 6 sec ago

Emotions stir in Jerusalem as HBO’s ‘Our Boys’ hits local airwaves

  • The deaths of the four youths spiraled into a seven-week war between Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza

JERUSALEM: A new HBO series on the killing of a Palestinian youth after three Israeli teens were murdered in a deadly summer five years ago is stirring up painful memories for bereaved families on both sides of the conflict.

“Our Boys,” which premiered in Israel and the US last week, centers on Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian who was abducted near his East Jerusalem home and burned to death by three Israelis, two of them also teenagers, in July 2014.

“I wish I could reach into the screen and grab hold of my son,” Abu Khdeir’s mother, Suha, told Reuters, her voice breaking, soon after watching the first two episodes of the series, a co-production of HBO and Israel’s Keshet International and produced by Movie Plus.

“The show brought me right back to the pain, to the day he was kidnapped,” she said.

Prosecutors said Abu Khdeir’s convicted killers were avenging the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens — Naftali Frankel, Gilad Sha’er and Eyal Yifrach — in the occupied West Bank two weeks earlier by members of Hamas.

The deaths of the four youths spiraled into a seven-week war between Israel and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

HBO’s 10-episode dramatization dissects Israel’s internal investigation into the three ultra-Orthodox Jews eventually convicted of Abu Khdeir’s murder and the frantic initial days after his parents learned of his disappearance and death.

The Hebrew- and Arabic-language series was written, directed and produced by two Jewish Israelis and an Arab Israeli, who mix documentary footage with live production to delve into the micro details they say drive the conflict.

“We live in an extremely nuanced world where wars erupt because of tiny things,” co-director Joseph Cedar, 50, said in an interview alongside collaborators Hagai Levi and Tawfik Abu Wael. “We tried to peel back the layers of this hate crime,” he said.

But some bereaved Israeli families have said the show largely glosses over the murder of the three Israeli teens, who are referenced throughout the series but not included as characters.

Two Hamas suspects in the murders were killed in a 2014 shootout and in 2015 an Israeli court sentenced a third Hamas member to three life terms for the teens’ abduction and murder.

Levi said the creators felt they had portrayed the context of Abu Khdeir’s killing. “But the crime is the story,” he said.