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NEWS FEATURE: Injured photojournalist catches the eye of the world

By Khaled Tayeh – Wafa

Only a few hours after Moath Amarneh’s life has changed forever as he lost sight in one of his eyes while doing his job, Palestine, the Middle East and beyond took it to the internet to express solidarity with the photojournalist whose story has become inspirational for many.

Moath Amarneh is a Palestinian photojournalist, and while it’s only normal for people working in that field TO be found covering news and events related to Palestine, last Friday wasn’t a normal working day for Amarneh.

On Friday, Amarneh, wearing a vest that says ‘Press,’ was covering a protest against land confiscation in the village of Surif, to the south of the occupied West Bank governorate of Hebron, when he was seriously injured by a metallic bullet fired by an Israeli soldier. It was later announced that he had lost his left eye as a result.

Although he underwent an operation to remove the bullet, doctors said that it seems to have settled near the brain, which caused the operation to be more difficult. Amarneh is expected to undergo more operations soon.

A few hours later after the news spread about Amarneh’s situation, hundreds of social media users, activists, journalists, politicians and even celebrities were fast to condemn the attack and show solidarity with the injured photojournalists by sharing pictures of themselves covering their left eyes.

Organized and launched by a number of Palestinian activists and journalists, an online campaign attached with hashtags like #We_are_Moath, #EyeOfTruth #MoathEye spread fast, catching the eyes of Palestinians, Arabs and the whole world.

Accordingly, the campaign aims to expose and shed light on Israeli violations against journalists and media in Palestine such as in creating obstacles for them while covering news on events related to Israeli policies against the Palestinians. Hence the story is being narrated in several languages.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) condemned the attack on Amarneh, describing it as “a deliberate targeting by the Israeli army of a colleague wearing a bullet-proof vest signed Press.” It also called on “international institutions to act quickly to stop this violence against the press in Palestine.”

Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), posted a picture of herself on her official Twitter page, covering her left eye, attaching it with a caption that said ‘Moath Amarneh is a witness against the crimes of Israeli occupation, as we all are.’

Lebanese singer Elissa also tweeted a photo of herself covering her eye in solidarity with Amarneh.

News reporters from Palestine TV Channel broadcasted the 9 o’clock news while covering their left eye.

In Palestine, dozens of journalists suffered from suffocation after inhaling teargas fired at them by Israeli forces during a solidarity sit-in in support of Amarneh in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, Amarneh’s hometown.

A university student was critically injured after being struck with a teargas canister in the face and two others were shot and injured with live ammunition in the foot as Israeli forces attacked a sit-in organized by students in Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie in support of Amarneh, in the West Bank city of Tulkarm.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Amarneh yesterday at his sickbed and offered to send him anywhere in the world for treatment due to his very delicate situation.

Meanwhile, Amarneh’s ordeal and the solidarity campaign with him is picking attention and interest around the world, but more so is Israel’s treatment of Palestinian journalists in particular and people in general.