Gaza (Palestine): A Palestinian journalist shot by Israeli forces during a mass demonstration along the Gaza border has died of his wounds.
Yaser Murtaja, a photographer with the Gaza-based Ain Media agency, was shot in the stomach in Khuza'a in the south of the Gaza Strip on Friday, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Murtaja, 30, was hit despite wearing a blue flak jacket marked with the word "press", indicating he was a journalist. Hosam Salem, a photographer at the scene of the incident told Al Jazeera on Friday that he witnessed Murtaja drop to the ground after he was shot by Israeli forces, Al Jazeera reported Saturday.
"Yaser was filming with his camera next to me when we heard the sound of gunfire," Salem said. "He just fell on the ground and said, 'I've been shot, I've been shot.'"
The Palestinian journalist syndicate said seven other reporters were injured in Friday's protest, in what they described as "deliberate crimes committed by the Israeli army".
The syndicate posted photos of journalist Khalil Abu Athira, who was shot during his coverage of Gaza's protest on Friday. The journalism union called for a mass participation in the funeral of Murtaja, and for a protest to be held at 12pm (09:00GMT) at the Manara Square in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. They also called for the United Nations to protect journalists and to implement UN Resolution 2222 into concrete steps.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian health ministry said the death toll has increased to 29 ever since the Palestinians assembled near Israel-Gaza border as part of their Grand Retrun March which began last Friday. "Besides 29 dead, over 2850 Palestinians have been injured. 79 of them are in critical condition", the ministry said.
The border rallies, which began last Friday, kicked off a six-week demonstration that will culminate on May 15. That day will mark the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment -- an event Palestinians call the "Nakba" or "Catastrophe".
Demonstrators are demanding that Palestinian refugees be granted the “right of return” to their towns and villages in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel. Israel, for its part, has deployed thousands of troops along the fraught border with Gaza, vowing to use deadly force against anyone who threatens Israel’s “security infrastructure”.
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