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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Palestinian journalist attacked by Israeli mob during Jerusalem rally

Source Arab News
Thursday , 06 June 2024
Photo credit: AFP/Hazem Bader

Palestinian freelance journalist Saif Kwasmi was attacked by a mob of young Israelis on Wednesday during a so-called Jerusalem Day flag march organized by Jewish nationalist.

Kwasmi was covering the demonstration that commemorates Israel’s capture of the city’s eastern sector in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

In one video, purportedly film by Kwasmi himself, a group of young jewish men are seen shouting at the journalist before kicking and punching him.

AFP photographer Hazem Bader took some of the most dramatic images of the attack.

In one of his images, Kwasmi, wearing a press vest, faces off against the mob. Another image shows him holding his head in pain while laying on the ground.

A video captured close to the scene shows Israeli police moving in with force to break up the attack.

Thousands of far-right nationalists marched through the old city provoking residents and shopkeepers with heavy police presence.

The agitators shouted hateful slogans, including “We will burn your villages,” “All Arabs can suck it,” and “Muhammed is dead,” in reference to the prophet of Islam, peace be upon him.

Far-right Israel ministers also took part in the event.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said at the march: “We send a message to Hamas. Jerusalem is ours. Damascus gate is ours. The Temple Mount is ours.” Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich took selfies with the marchers.

Israeli extremists have grown bolder in recent years after some among their ranks were invited into government.

Many of them want to annex the West Bank and Gaza as part of their Greater Israel ambitions.

Israel’s occupation in the West Bank is considered unlawful by the international community and illegal settlements in the Palestinian territory have been condemned widely.

In April, Kwasmi said he was detained and assaulted by Israel police while reporting at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

“When we were at Bab al-Silsila [gate to the mosque compound], the two counter-terrorism policemen who were escorting me and a border police officer took me aside and started assaulting me. The border police officer slapped me in the back of my neck,” he told the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“They made me face a wall while security officers beat me and called me a Hamas reporter.”

Israel has been engaged in a devastating war with Hamas in Gaza, vowing to destroy the group who attacked Israeli settlements near the Palestinian enclave on Oct. 7, 2023, killing around 1200 people, and taking over 200 others as hostages.

The Gaza health ministry reported on Wednesday that 36,586 Palestinians had died since the start of the war.

Sporadic ceasefire and hostage release negotiations have been fruitless, with US President Joe Biden, an Israel ally, blaming both Hamas and Israel for the lack of progress, including accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of prolonging the war for his personal interest.

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