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Photographer barred from treatment after being shot by Israeli forces

June 11, 2015 9:42 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 6, 2015 1:47 P.M.)
Israeli security forces fire tear gas towards Palestinian protesters on May 16, 2015 next to Huwarra checkpoint south of Nablus. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh, File)
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 toIsraeli 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.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 in a move considered illegal by the international community, and Palestinians living in the West Bank, are often barred by Israel from crossing into the city, which they consider their capital.

As a Palestinian living in the West Bank, Shtayyeh had to apply for an Israeli permit to enter, however Israeli authorities turned down his request.

He tried again two more times -- once through the Red Cross and once through a private Israeli lawyer. But both requests were rejected.

A spokesman for the Shin Bet internal security agency did not have an immediate response.

Shtayyeh's lawyer, Itai Matt, told AFP that his client had been informed it was the Shin Bet preventing his entry, despite his having been granted such permission in the past.

According to Matt, Israeli security services "regularly bar entry to anyone wounded by the army".

"They even bar entry to wounded children seeking treatment in Jerusalem, because they are worried that anyone wounded will try and take revenge after their treatment," he said.

Xinhua did not respond to AFP's requests for a comment on the incident.

Shtayyeh is one of nearly 1,000 Palestinians to be injured by Israeli forces since the start of 2015, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Israeli military courts rarely prosecute members of Israeli forces who cause injury or death . From 2000-2012, only 117 of 2,207 investigations opened by the Military Police Criminal Investigations Division were indicted, about 5% of the total files opened, according to Israeli human rights group Yesh-Din.

Shtayyah's injury and inability to access treatment comes as groups Foreign Press Association and Reporters Without Borders have alleged that Israeli forces deliberately target press covering demonstrations.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
carlos / usa
typical israeli behavior- inhumane.
11/06/2015 19:14
Violence Is Not A Right / Law Enforcement Is
-1- The routine clashes that Palestinians call "weekly marches" often become violent when their route is blocked, just as "activists" aboard the Mari Marmara flotilla vessel became violent at the blockade, such that
-2- There is no possible way for Israeli forces to suppress them by peacefully !!
12/06/2015 20:28
Outlier / USA
Typical Palestinian behavior - complaining, but staying a third-world society, with little in the way of real medical care and significant infrastructure.
12/06/2015 23:37
Mel / UK
That's defined as cruel, indecent, degrading,inhumane, punishment(ICJ)against occupied civilians.War crime. We turn our back on you Israel.
13/06/2015 12:27
Susanne / USA
The Mavi Marmara was in international waters when Israeli forces attacked it with helicopters and guns. And for "Outlier" to suggest Palestinians insist on being a third world country without significant infrastructure when Israel routinely destroys roads, buildings and water systems is maddening.
13/06/2015 14:41
Tigger / UK
Why anyone expects Israelis to behave like human beings never ceases to astound me.
13/06/2015 14:52
Berel Dov Lerner / Israel
I suppose the Arab "demonstrators" were throwing special non-lethal Molotov cocktails!
13/06/2015 23:41
Colin Wright / USA
re Outlier 'Typical Palestinian behavior - complaining, but staying a third-world society, with little in the way of real medical care and significant infrastructure.'

On the contrary, I'd say that's typical Zionist hypocrisy. Outlier is blaming the Palestinians for conditions Israel ensures exist.
14/06/2015 09:44
CB / Germany
Violence Is Not A Right / Law Enforcement Is
Where do you get your information? There is a vast amount of footage showing peaceful demonstrations that are attacked by the IDF. As for the Mari Marmara - they were attacked in international waters at night and a few passengers defended themselves.
14/06/2015 13:46
This story is not true! Israel treats so many people that are against them but never have they refused to! They are first on the scene in many disasters that have befallen foreign lands. I STAND WITH ISRAEL AND I am proud to be a Jew!
11/08/2015 00:28
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