Palestinian photojournalist Mahmud Hams wins award for Gaza protest image

Palestinian photojournalist Mahmud Hams wins award for Gaza protest image
A Gaza-based photojournalist has received top honours in the photo category at the 25th Bayeux-Calvados War Correspondents Prize.
2 min read
19 October, 2018
Mahmud Hams won top honours for his photo of Gaza resident Saber al-Ashqar [AFP]

Palestinian photojournalist Mahmud Hams has been awarded the top photo prize at the 25th edition Bayeux-Calvados-Normandy Awards for War Correspondents this week.

The 38-year-old was given the award for his photograph of a wheelchair-bound Palestinian protester at a Great March of Return protest on May 11, 2018 in Gaza.

Twenty-nine-year-old double amputee Saber al-Ashqar, the subject of the image, is shown swinging a slingshot towards Israeli soldier across the border with Israel.

Al-Ashqar lost his legs during the 2008 Israeli assault on Gaza.

"The man in the wheelchair is a known activist/protester and came to the fence every week," Gaza resident Hams wrote in an article for AFP.

"He comes on a bus and his friends help him get down and accompany him to the protest site. There were two other handicapped men who were also regular demonstrators, but they have since been killed. Two journalists were killed in the protests as well, despite wearing clear markings."

Demonstrations began in March for the right of refugees in Gaza to return their homes lost since the 1948 creation of Israel, with at least 205 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces who have used live fire on the unarmed protesters.

Israel has accused Palestinians of endangering lives and destroying farmland through the use of incendiary devices and pinned blame on Hamas, the ruling authority in Gaza, for the deaths, which include dozens of children.

Human rights groups and the UN have condemned Israel's overwhelming use of force to disperse the demonstrations.

"This is the first time that I can remember that such huge protests have taken place in an open area so near the border," Hams said of the Great March of Return protests. "People used to be afraid to approach the fence as it's very exposed and there are Israeli snipers on the lookout."