The Man with a Contagious Smile
A spouse and parent to one child, Murtaja devoted his time to covering what it means to be residing in Gaza.
Constantly carrying his camera, he sought to reveal the tales of Palestinians who had lived through years of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade and Israeli invasions on the Strip.
He was an honored cameraman for documentaries – most particularly, Al Jazeera’s “Gaza: Surviving Shujayea”.
So it was reported that the Palestinian journalist was among nine individuals murdered during the ‘Great March of Return’ Speaking about Yaser Murtaja, a 30-year-old photographer who was shot and slain during the protests, Lieberman had declared that he was running a drone above IDF soldiers when he was hit.
Contrary to a previous statement by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces said they are not informed of any use of drones by Palestinians during last Friday’s protest near the wall along the Gaza border.
“I don’t know who he is, a photographer, not a photographer – whoever operates drones above IDF soldiers needs to know that he is exposing himself,” said Lieberman, talking about Murtaja’s death.
A military investigation into the problem, however, is still to uncover any evidence that Murtaja had used a drone. No news was obtained of any drones being used in a manner that could endanger soldiers at any of the focal sites of the protest on Friday.
Photographs and video clips of Murtaja were surrendered by Palestinians, but appear not produce a drone. Murtaja is discovered bearing a blue vest that stated “Press” on it in English when he was injured. The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate said Murtaja was standing about 350 meters from the boundary fence when he was hit.
Murtaja was supposedly notorious for taking aerial photographs using drones, even though available evidence indicates he was leaving it behind on Friday.
The IDF regards the use of drones with severity. Drones flying near to Israeli soldiers or passing over the Israeli border are believed to be serious threats. The military believes it to be comparable to an attempted terrorist strike or the infiltration of any other aerial vehicle into Israel area.
The operation of drones by Palestinians in the protests is always expected to be met with severe consequences from the IDF. In reply to the event, however, the Israeli army expressed worry. “The IDF does not mean to fire at reporters, and the circumstances in which journalists were allegedly injured by fire from IDF forces are not identified and are being examined,” it declared in a report.
Besides the slain Yaser Murtaja, four other reporters were wounded by live fire during the protests on Friday, one of them severely. The IDF Spokesman did not mention reports on the operation of drones. Haaretz has not yet obtained a reply from Lieberman on the matter.
Lieberman also stated that “we’ve received dozens of incidents where Hamas terrorists used ambulances to pass unnoticed or dressed up as Red Crescent medical staff or as reporters. We won’t take any chances. I think it’s evident to everybody that the IDF is the most moral army in the world.”
Following Murtaja’s death, the Union of Journalists in Israel addressed IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot on Saturday. “The union demands explanations concerning the shooting of reporters and the orders issued to officers on the Gaza border pertaining to representatives of the press,” said a tweet on the Union’s Twitter account.
Fatally injured Palestinian reporter Yasser Murtaja, 31, is evacuated during clashes with Israeli troops at the Israel-Gaza boundary, in the southern Gaza Strip April 6, 2018