Death toll from Friday's Gaza protest killings rises to nine

Death toll from Friday's Gaza protest killings rises to nine
At least nine Palestinians died from Israel gunfire during a protest on the Gaza border Friday, with many more critically injured.
2 min read
07 April, 2018
Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja died from gunshot injuries Saturday [AFP]
The death toll from Friday's protests on the Gaza border went up to nine on Saturday, with four more Palestinians succumbing to gunshot wounds.

Gaza's health ministry announced Saturday that two more men had died, including a journalist who was wearing a vest marked "PRESS" when he was targeted by Israeli troops.

Yasser Murtaja, 30, was a photographer with the Gaza-based Ain Media agency and photos show the journalist being treated for a gunshot wound to the abdoman whilst wearing his press jacket.

Murtaja's brother was stood by him when he was hit and blamed Israeli troops for deliberately targeting journalists.

"The target was very clearly journalists," he said.

Murtaja and the eight other victims caused by Israel firing bullets into Friday's demonstrations were laid to rest Saturday.

His body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag, with a press flak jacket placed on his stomach.

Murtaja's funeral was attended by Ismail Haniya, the head of Gaza's Hamas who also said Israel was deliberately targeting media covering the protests.

He said the journalists were trying to highlight a "true picture of a blockaded, downtrodden people" in Gaza, he added.

Seven more journalists were injured during the protest, according to Gaza's health ministry.

Around 50 journalists held a vigil in Ramallah on Saturday to remember Murtaja.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a tweet it was "saddened to learn" that Murtaja had died after being "shot while covering Gaza demonstrations".

Israel has faced widespread international condemnation for its brutal police of shooting into protesters on the Gaza border, with the UN and NGOs all speaking out against Tel Aviv's "live fire" tactics.

Earlier this week, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Palestinians that planned protests in Gaza on Friday would be met with the same deadly tactics employed by Israeli troops a week earlier, including live fire.

Thirty-one Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops in the two Friday protests, while almost 500 have been injured from Israeli gunfire.