Yaser Murtaja, the founder of Ain Media and a former contributor to News2Share, was shot dead by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) while covering Friday’s protests in the Gaza Strip.
“I wish that the day would come to take this shot when I’m in the air and not on the ground,” he wrote in one of his final Facebook posts. “My name is Yaser Murtaja. I’m 30 years old. I live in Gaza City. I’ve never traveled!”
Murtaja was one of many Palestinian journalists covering numerous “March of Return” protests at the border. Israeli forces opened fire on protesters nearing the border yesterday, using live ammunition through clouds of thick smoke and tear gas. Murtaja was shot in the stomach, and succumbed to his wounds last night – despite wearing a flak jacket clearly marked “press.”
“Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed,” an official IDF spokesperson said of violence last week, an even bloodier day that resulted in at least 18 deaths. With Murtaja’s death, the death toll across both days stands at 30.
Murtaja is well respected for his field correspondence, which often included drone footage. Commenting on Murtaja’s death, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told press that anyone operating a drone near Israeli forces “needs to understand he is endangering himself.”
“We saw dozens of cases in which Hamas terrorists used ambulances, dressed up as Red Crescent workers, and dressed up as journalists,” he explained. “We won’t take any risks.”
Murtaja was shot in the town of Khuzaa. He was reportedly over 100 meters from the border, wearing his protective vest marked “press” and holding his camera when he was shot, according to the Washington Post.
Conflicting reports say that a total of between six and ten journalists were injured on Friday.
Murtaja submitted a total of five videos to News2Share during the 2014 Gaza War. News2Share co-founder Trey Yingst first made contact with Murtaja during his coverage of the Gaza siege. Murtaja ultimately contributed a total of five videos showing the violence and aftermath in the Palestinian region.