Israel bars Palestinian journalist from Jerusalem hospital
Israel has barred a Palestinian photographer allegedly shot in the eye by an Israeli soldier from entering east Jerusalem for specialist treatment.
Nidal Shtayyeh, who works for Chinese news agency Xinhua, was wounded while covering a small demonstration at Huwarra checkpoint near the northern West Bank city of Nablus on May 16. As he was covering the rally, Shtayyeh was hit in the face by a rubber bullet which entered his eye, causing serious damage.
"The march was peaceful and no stones were thrown, no photographers were taking any pictures," he said, accusing soldiers of firing sound bombs at the photographers without any provocation.
"I raised my camera to my right eye to take a picture, but a soldier shot me in my left eye with his rifle, and the rubber bullet went through my gas mask's glass eye cover and into my eye."
An Italian camerawoman was also injured during the same demonstration which came as Palestinians marked the "Nakba" (catastrophe) that befell them when Israel was established in 1948. At the time, the army said at least 100 Palestinians had been throwing stones and petrol bombs, and that troops had responded with "riot dispersal means".
Shtayyeh was rushed to Rafidiya hospital in Nablus for initial treatment but was prescribed specialist help at St John's eye hospital in annexed east Jerusalem. As a Palestinian living in the West Bank, Shtayyeh had to apply for an Israeli permit to enter Jerusalem; Israeli authorities turned down his request.
He applied two more times, once through the Red Cross and once through a private Israeli lawyer. Both requests were rejected.
A spokeswoman for COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry body that manages civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, confirmed his request had been rejected by the Shin Bet internal security agency, stating that a doctor who examined Shtayyeh on behalf of COGAT determined that his case was not urgent, suggesting he resubmit the request a week in advance of his desired entry date.
But his lawyer, Itai Matt, told AFP that the Israeli security services "regularly bar entry to anyone wounded by the army".
"They even bar entry to wounded children seeking treatment in Jerusalem, because they are worried that anyone wounded will try and take revenge after their treatment," he said.
Xinhua has not of yet commented on the incident.