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Gaza’s iconic ‘liberty protester’ shot in the leg by Israeli forces

Israel/Palestine
on 22 Comments

Aed Abu Amro, 20, is the owner of a small kiosk that sells cigarettes in the al-Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City’s south side. On October 22 he reached internet infamy after photographer for Anadolu Agency Mustafa Hassouna captured a shirtless Abu Amro gripping a Palestinian flag firmly in one hand and a slingshot in the other during a protest at the fence that divides the Gaza Strip and Israel. The picture has been shared more than 50,000 times.

When the image went viral it was compared to Eugène Delacroix’s famed painting “Liberty Leading the People” where lady liberty incarnate leads an armed crowd to oust King Charles X during the Second French Revolution while clutching what later became the flag of France.

Yesterday Abu Amro was shot in his leg with a rubber bullet while the Israeli navy was cracking down on the marine protests in the northern city of Beit Lahia that borders Zikim beach in Israel south of Ashkelon. I saw paramedics carry him off of the sandy shoreline. Abu Amro was struck when Israeli forces opened fire on a rally of 15 Palestinian boats unmoored from Gaza City’s port and headed towards Israeli waters. The scene was frantic as the fire came amid a barrage of tear gas also fired on the flotilla.

The flotilla protests have coincided with the Great March of Return demonstrations, meaning weekly Palestinians are facing off with Israeli forces at both the land barrier and on the seafront.

Aed Abu Amro winds a slingshot and waves a Palestinian flag, Friday, October 26, 2018.

Aed Abu Amro winds a slingshot and waves a Palestinian flag, Friday, October 26, 2018. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Aed Abu Amro waves a Palestinian flag at a protest in the Gaza Strip on Friday, October 26, 2018.

Aed Abu Amro waves a Palestinian flag at a protest in the Gaza Strip on Friday, October 26, 2018. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Friday October 26, 2018.

Friday October 26, 2018. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Friday October 26, 2018.

Friday October 26, 2018. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Friday October 26, 2018.

Friday October 26, 2018. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Aed Abu Amro displays his iconic photograph, Friday, October 26, 2018.

Aed Abu Amro displays his iconic photograph, Friday, October 26, 2018. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

When I spoke to Abu Amro two weeks ago, he addressed the possibility of becoming injured. At that time, he said told me he “longed to taste the lovely pain of being shot by those Israeli snipers” because “we must struggle as long as injustice and humiliation are being practiced on Gaza people.”

Abu Amro said he has not missed any of the more than six months of protest that began in Gaza on March 30, 2018 and continue each Friday. Since the blockade over Gaza began 11 years ago, he has not been able to leave the enclave. He insisted, he will continue to protest at “whatever cost to him.”

Abu Amro was pleased that his image evoked a likeness to the French painting. That day he spent a total of three hours protesting, shirtless.

“It is really good to compare my shirtless image to this topless woman. I think she will inspire me,” Abu Amro said timidly while showing the French painting on his cell phone to his friends who circled around.

Delacroix painted the iconic image in 1830 commemorating those who took up arms and marched under the motto of liberty, equality and fraternity.

“I felt proud once I saw the image delivered into my Facebook inbox by a friend,” he said, “While going to protest, I am not interested in getting my photo taken by journalists, but that one has fueled me up to continue protesting.”

Aed Abu Amro, Friday October 26, 2018.

Aed Abu Amro, Friday October 26, 2018. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Friday October 26, 2018.

Friday October 26, 2018. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Friday October 26, 2018.

Friday October 26, 2018. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Describing the day the photograph was taken Abu Amro said he and some friends were monitoring the march from afar when plumes of thick smoke from tires burned by protesters and tear gas fired by the Israeli military created a thick cloud.

“This chaos warmed me up,” said Abu Amro who then rushed toward the fence separating Gaza from Israel. Some have suggested Abu Amro is motivated by despair and hopelessness, but he said that he does not feel that way.

“I have never miss a single lesson at my bodybuilding club and I am a Street Workout athlete,” he said, “My people, my friends and I love life more than the whole of people around the world.”

Hassouna, the photographer who snapped the photo told Mondoweiss Abu Amro looked like a “rebel for his people’s just cause.”

“Abu Amro and everyone from his generation do not have weapons, rather stones which have become an inherited element of Palestinian culture of resistance the occupation,” Hassouna told Mondoweiss, “I am very proud to convey this image to the whole world who supports Gaza, and to the lovers of humanity and freedom.”

Friday October 26, 2018.

Friday October 26, 2018. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Friday October 26, 2018.

Friday October 26, 2018. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Friday October 26, 2018.

Friday October 26, 2018. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Abu Amro comes from a humble background. He lives in a 970 square foot house with his family. It is uncomfortably overcrowded. Although the weekly protest location is only three miles away from his home, reaching it is not an easy task. Abu Amro earns about $2.70 a day from his cigarette counter. “Despite my hardships, I share half of what I bring with my family, and the other half pays for a taxi to get here,” he said of his commute to get to the demonstrations, which raises the question of why he does not take a bus, like thousands of other protesters? Abu Amro said the buses are paid for by political parties and he is an independent.

“So nobody can accuse me that I support any political faction, I come alone with my desire,” he said.

About Ahmad Kabariti

Ahmad Kabariti is a freelance journalist based in Gaza.

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22 Responses

  1. Henry Norr
    Henry Norr
    November 6, 2018, 12:59 pm

    “internet infamy”? Wouldn’t “celebrity” or some such be a better word?

  2. Marnie
    Marnie
    November 7, 2018, 12:11 am

    “Hassouna, the photographer who snapped the photo told Mondoweiss Abu Amro looked like a “rebel for his people’s just cause.”

    I’m very glad he wasn’t killed by israeli snipers, like the medic Rajan al-Najjar. These two are too beautiful for israel to tolerate as they can’t hold a candle to them.

  3. DaBakr
    DaBakr
    November 7, 2018, 5:11 am

    If he wasn’t purposely posing for a composed photo how did he load up his sling? A little awkward for those in the expertise sling shot business.
    Still, the shot was made, wnt viral and a rubber bullet couldn’t stop it. Fair game.

    • CigarGod
      CigarGod
      November 7, 2018, 10:44 am

      Ammo Carrier.
      Look it up…no wait, I’ll be your page turner so all you need to do is bend over.

      • DaBakr
        DaBakr
        November 7, 2018, 12:57 pm

        @cg

        If you think the photographer wasn’t spending a lot of time and energy to stage the perfect shot your more naive then you sound. That said, the photo is taken and its appeal is now a matter of public record. Do you even know the ratio of so-called press photographers to protesters in Gaza or the territories looking to make a name for themselves.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        November 7, 2018, 9:49 pm

        So, Dbakr,
        You think you are some kind of a photo purist, upholding some standard that says unless a conflict photo is one-off, accidental and unplanned then it isn’t honest?
        Do you think the slinger went out there that day to sling one stone, and call it a day?
        I know a N. Geo conflict photographer that shot 14,000 images for a story and used 11 of them.
        What kind of point do you think you are making?

        Who cares what the ratio of photographers to slingers is? They are all out there trying to capture an image that means something to them.
        What is your point?

        When you get up in the morning and comb your hair are you lying to the world? Because you hide your body odor under Right Guard are you less of a man?

        What the hell is your reedy little point?

        .

      • DaBakr
        DaBakr
        November 9, 2018, 1:25 am

        @cg

        you just made my point perfectly.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        November 9, 2018, 10:11 am

        Dabakr,
        That all photographers and hairdressers should be burned at the stake?

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      November 7, 2018, 10:45 am

      @DaBakr

      You just can’t bear it. A photo gone viral of a handsome, strong, young Palestinian man armed only with a sling shot standing up to the well armed fascists who have been killing, dispossessing, occupying and oppressing his people for over 70 years. People around the world are comparing it to Eugene Delacroix’s famous painting of the 1830 Paris uprising – ‘Liberty Leading the People.”

      No wonder “Israel’s” image is in free fall around the world, including the U.S.

      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-poll-shows-support-for-israel-plummeting-among-u-s-liberals-millennials-and-women-1.6594182
      “New Poll Shows Support for Israel Plummeting Among U.S. Liberals, Millennials and Women”
      Haaretz, Oct. 26/18, by Chemi Shalev, Oct. 26/18
      EXCERPT:
      “Recent Economist-YouGov surveys indicate that the generally positive views of Israel are being steadily eroded in the hyperpolarized Trump era.”

      • Marnie
        Marnie
        November 7, 2018, 11:13 am

        @Misterioso

        “You just can’t bear it. A photo gone viral of a handsome, strong, young Palestinian man armed only with a sling shot”

        Just what I was thinking. What kind of envy is that?!

      • DaBakr
        DaBakr
        November 7, 2018, 12:51 pm

        @mst

        Oh I can bare it just fine. It’s a beautiful pic. I’m just not foolish enough to see it as anything but another propaganda point in the propaganda war that’s ongoing in the I/p conflict. I’m sure you’ll find some irritating photo of some handsome or beautiful IDF to criticize in the near future

      • just
        just
        November 7, 2018, 1:08 pm

        “The level of hypocrisy in the speech by this creature is astounding even by Zio standards.Clue the fact that she speaks with pride of her claimed activism against Apartheid South Africa a few sentences after saying that she

        “envied the brawny, tall, tanned, muscled and European men and women who moved to the swamplands of Palestine against all odds to build a country for our people” . …”

        https://mondoweiss.net/2018/11/israeli-mentions-palestinians/

        I ‘envy’ nobody. I respect others who are devoted to truth and justice. I respect Aed Abu Amro and his entire family of Palestinians in and out of Palestine.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        Maximus Decimus Meridius
        November 8, 2018, 8:26 am

        “You just can’t bear it. A photo gone viral of a handsome, strong, young Palestinian man armed only with a sling shot”

        This exactly. Same reason why they hate Ahed so much. How dare Palestinians have courageous, attractive young people making poor little Isreal look bad?

        And btw I don’t doubt that the photo was ‘ staged’ in the sense that the photographer – and possibly his subject – was deliberately looking for a great photograph. So what? The situation itself certainly was not staged – it’s all too real.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      Maximus Decimus Meridius
      November 8, 2018, 8:33 am

      “Oh I can bare it just fine.”

      I’d prefer you kept your clothes on if I’m being honest.

      “I’m sure you’ll find some irritating photo of some handsome or beautiful IDF to criticize in the near future”

      Oh I’m sure there are plenty of good-looking people in the occupation forces, as there are in all militias. Difference is they are enforcing an illegal, racist occupation, not resisting it.

      You could have Chris Hemsworth pose naked expect for his Israeli army issue underpants and it still wouldn’t turn the tide. The PR war has long been lost. Now all you’ve got is bullying and blackmail. See the leaked Israel lobby documentary for the harsh reality.

  4. captADKer
    captADKer
    November 7, 2018, 8:20 am

    now that the slinging icon has taken one for the team- start calling him “pali-grim”

    • just
      just
      November 7, 2018, 1:35 pm

      Disgusting comment, “captADKer”.
      .
      Your fellow travelers will be so proud

    • Marnie
      Marnie
      November 8, 2018, 2:37 am

      o captain, not my captain, oh sorry, maybe capt is for caption, captcha or captopril, never mind – this fine young virile, handsome man in the full bloom of his strength apparently struck a nerve with you or your wife/girlfriend/mother??? Well me too; I am absolutely smitten.

      Can’t best him on a level playing field, but can just slay him with your keyboard cudgel, or so you and your ‘fellow travelers’ might think. Bwaahhaaahhhaaaahaaaahhaaahhaaahhaahahhaaahhhaaaaaaaaa ;^P

      • Misterioso
        Misterioso
        November 8, 2018, 9:14 am

        @Marnie

        “this fine young virile, handsome man in the full bloom of his strength apparently struck a nerve with you or your wife/girlfriend/mother??? Well me too; I am absolutely smitten.”

        Brava, well said!! The Zionists have been trying to pound a square peg into a round hole for over 70 years and still the Palestinians resist and increase in numbers while Jewish immigration is in the toilet and emigration is soaring.

        Zionists: short time smart, long term stupid, real stupid.

  5. Citizen
    Citizen
    November 7, 2018, 4:18 pm

    DonaldTrump’s Rules of Engagement for Troops at US-Mexico Border Mirror Those Used By the IDF in Gaza http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50561.htm

  6. RoHa
    RoHa
    November 7, 2018, 6:34 pm

    It’s a

    SLING

    not a slingshot, dammit.

    A slingshot (Br. “catapult”, Aust. “dinger”) is a different weapon. Bart Simpson has one in his back pocket.

  7. annie
    annie
    November 7, 2018, 10:28 pm

    the photos here by Mohammed Asad are awesome as well.

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