Palestinian Filmaker Mohammad al-Azza
Three months ago, Mohammad al-Azza, 23, the filmmaker and photo journalist, was shot in the face by Israel forces. Now he has been arrested during a violent raid on his home Sunday night, reportedly because he was filming Israeli actions against Palestinian children.
The fearless journalist is head of the film department at Lajee Center in Aida refugee camp. In April, a rubber-coated steel bullet penetrated his cheek below the right eye and fractured his skull. You can see two of his films here, in an earlier post about Al-Azza’s talent.
Librarians and Archivists to Palestine, a delegation of librarians, archivists and information workers who had met Al-Azza while visiting the Lajee Center, report that Israeli forces arresting Al-Azza beat him in his bad eye:
All the folks I spoke with on Monday in Aida Camp were distressed about this news, especially because they were told the soldiers hit Mohammad repeatedly in his bad eye during the arrest process. Mohammad still requires two surgeries on his cheek and eye to make a good recovery from the injury. Members of his family were also injured in the raid.
Scenes of Al-Azza’s arrest were captured in video at Iran’s Press TV, which reports:
Al-Azzeh’s family told Press TV that more than 30 Israeli soldiers entered the place and took him away after violently beating him.
According to the journalist’s family, Azzeh was arrested for taking pictures of Israeli forces attacking Palestinian children near the refugee camp. His lawyer also said Azzeh would be transferred to the Ofer military prison.
In this regard, Monjed Jadou with Palestine News Network (PNN) told Press TV, “I think the media are playing a great role in showing and telling the world what is happening exactly in Palestine,” adding, “What happened to Mohammad shows that the Israelis are targeting journalists.”
One wonders if the Israeli military has arrested Al-Azza for taking the photos of their forces attacking children the day he was shot in April. According to Palestinian News Network Mohammed’s uncle, Nidal al-Azzeh, 52, along with two other family members were assaulted during the raid.
The Israeli army forces also raided the house of Mohammed’s brother, and brutally beat him with their rifles. The soldiers also tried to assault his three daughters who were taking pictures for the soldiers during the assault. The soldiers were provoked and they confiscated the camera and destroyed it.
Nidal added that Mohammed was arrested few hours after the searching campaign was carried out by the Israeli forces at the camp, and that he was severely beaten on his cheek where the surgical operation took place. The soldiers sealed off the doors of Mohammed’s family house, banning the family members from leaving their homes.
Meanwhile, a report at The Lajee Center website’– “Lajee Center Dance Troupe Forced to Cancel U.S. Tour“– mentions Mohammed’s brother, a member of the Lajee Center Dubka Troupe, who was at risk of being arrested.
Unfortunately on May 6, 2013 the long awaited and planned for trip had to be cancelled. Arrests, clashes, and night invasions had been increasing in the past few months and on the night of May 6 one of our dancers was arrested in the middle of the night without charge or reason. He would be the second dancer to be arrested by the Israelis. In addition, two more of our dancers were at risk of being arrested or detained by the Israelis. One of those two is the brother of a photographer who was shot in the face by an Israeli soldier last month while photographing an incursion into the camp.
However the arrests were not the only challenge. Despite the various European visas in their passports, out of our 13 participants, only eight had received a U.S. visa. Another four were told that their application had to be sent for additional security checks, which is a waiting game we no longer had time for.
No reason was given for these arrests and they follow a pattern described by Prisoner Support and Rights Association Addamer as a ”campaign of arbitrary detention against journalists and media in the West Bank and Jerusalem“, reported earlier on Mondoweiss here.
According to IMEMC in the last week alone Israeli occupation forces conducted 65 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank in which 64 Palestinian civilians were abducted, including a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and 6 children.