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Shooting the messenger: occupation filmmaker al-Azza is arrested, 3 months after being shot in head

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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.

Israeli Forces Brutally Assault, Arrest Palestinian Photographer Mohammed Al-Azzeh

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.

Meanwhile, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) reports Israeli forces detained 340 Palestinians during the month of June, most of whom remained imprisoned.

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.

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is a mom, a human rights activist, and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area and likes to garden. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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10 Responses

  1. just on July 5, 2013, 1:56 pm


    All art and truth– dancing, photography, drawing, filmmaking, painting– must be suppressed by these Occupation forces and their govt, lest the world know the truth and the talent of the Palestinians………. Mohammed Assaf must have truly frightened them.

    PS– beating someone repeatedly in a previously injured area is torture.

    • annie on July 5, 2013, 2:39 pm

      israel targets a lot of journalists

      information threatens them, the truth threatens them, exposure threatens them and talent threatens them. over and over and over they target truth and talent. it’s not allowed if you are palestinian.

      • AlGhorear on July 5, 2013, 3:50 pm

        Reality threatens them. At least the internet has allowed some of us to see through all of the hasbara.

  2. Jan on July 5, 2013, 2:44 pm

    If there is one word to describe the actions of the damnable IDF it is “sadistic.” I have no doubt that these disgusting young men and women enjoy their work in tormenting and beating Palestinians. One day, hopefully, they will reap what they have sown.

  3. DissedStance on July 5, 2013, 3:53 pm

    Part of the sociopathic delusion: The truth can be beaten, tortured, detained,
    murdered, threatened, terrorized, belittled, – (insert adjective here)- and it will just go away, even as it is denied as truth….

  4. justicewillprevail on July 5, 2013, 6:05 pm

    I guess they really hated 5 Broken Cameras, and have resolved to break the people wielding them instead. The truth is the biggest threat to Israel and its fascist behaviour. These conscripts are inhuman zealots who have been corrupted by an ideology of hate and spite. Abduction, kidnapping, savage beatings, violence and destruction are so normalised that they can apparently indulge in these activities without the slightest remorse, before going back to their comfortable homes to be lionised by their families and their society. Zionism isn’t just a sociopathic condition, but it appears to be a schizophrenic one too. One which display the most abhorrent racist, sadistic behaviour whilst endlessly telling themselves and the world how democratic and liberal they are. The more the contradiction threatens to engulf them, the more punitive and debased their actions are, while at the same time the more they protest their innocence. It is ill, and it makes me feel ill having to witness the degradation of the human soul that Israel represents.

  5. ritzl on July 5, 2013, 6:14 pm

    Thanks Annie. I hope these Palestinian journalists and film-makers start to get some professional recognition. They’re going through hell to report the seemingly unreportable.

    • Citizen on July 6, 2013, 5:03 am

      Yes, Annie deserves a thanks on this, and I hope word gets out on such brave young and talented Palestinians.

  6. just on July 6, 2013, 5:47 am

    Will wonders never cease?

    Front page Wapo this morning is this article:

    “Israel debates ‘price-tag’ attacks on Muslims”

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