Journalist Mohammed al-Baba shot by IDF while covering Gaza protests – IFEX

Mohammed al-Baba, a photographer for Agence France-Presse, was hit by a live round fired by the Israel Defense Forces while covering a protest east of the northern Gazan city of Jabalia.

Source: Journalist Mohammed al-Baba shot by IDF while covering Gaza protests – IFEX

How the IDF is tarnishing the name of the medic it killed in Gaza

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit published a video it claims shows Razan al-Najjar throwing a tear gas canister into an open field and professing to be a ‘human shield’ — as if that justifies her killing. 

By Yael Marom

The photo of Razan that circulated on social media.

The photo of Razan that circulated on social media.

Razan al-Najjar is no angel of mercy,” tweeted IDF Arabic Spokesman Avichay Adraee on Thursday. Attached to Adraee’s defamatory tweet was an edited video in which a young woman dressed in a white coat and a headscarf, a mask covering her face, throws a tear gas canister during a protest in Gaza. According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, the film proves that al-Najjar, in life, was far from the image that has spread on social media after her death.

Since last Friday, when al-Najjar, a Palestinian medic, was killed, the IDF has been dealing with a public relations crisis. The army first announced that her death would be investigated, then declared that the investigation showed she was not shot by a soldier but “wounded by shrapnel,” and then declared that at the very least she wasn’t intentionally and directly targeted.

#رزان_النجار لم تكن #ملاك_الرحمة كما تحاول دعاية #حماس تسويقها فاعترافها بأنها شكلت درعًا بشريًا للمشاغبين المحرضين يثبت كيف تستسغل حماس جميع فئات المجتمع الغزاوي لصالح أهدافها وأهداف #إيران. فهل المسعفون في العالم يلقون قنابل ويشاركون في أعمال شغب ويسمون أنفسهم دروعًا بشرية؟

— افيخاي ادرعي (@AvichayAdraee) June 7, 2018

The IDF’s chief provocateur in Arabic has now taken the effort to justify al-Najjar’s death to the next level.


The 20-second propaganda video opens with a picture of al-Najjar with angel wings. Then the picture shakes, threatening music plays in the background, and a short clip of a young woman, her head and face covered, plays. The woman is handed a tear gas canister that is spouting gas, and she throws it a few meters. The video then sharply cuts to another time and place — to a clip from an interview with al-Najjar where she explains why she chose to participate in the Great Return March, seemingly saying that she is a human shield.

There is no evidence that the young woman who throws the tear gas canister is in fact al-Najjar. The IDF Spokesperson has not even made the effort to note the date or place the clip was filmed. And even if it is al-Najjar in the video, it is clear that she throws the tear gas canister only a few meters into an empty field — there are no soldiers in the area, and the Gaza-Israel separation barrier is not even visible in the clip. One can reasonably assume that the tear gas canister she throws was fired into Gaza by Israeli soldiers or by an IDF drone. The tear gas canister is spouting gas as she throws it — any reasonable person would try to do the same to avoid suffocating.

In his tweet, Adraee claims that al-Najjar admitted to serving as a “human shield for the inciting disrupters,” proving that “Hamas exploits all of Gazan society for its aims and the aims of Iran.” Adraee asks, “Do other paramedics in the world throw bombs, participate in riots, and call themselves human shields?” In the second half of the edited video, al-Najjar does appear to say the words “human shield,” after which the video cuts sharply. In the original video, however, which is cut out from the version distributed by the IDF, there is second half to al-Najjar’s sentence: “to defend the wounded on the front lines.” Perhaps not the wisest choice of words in the world, but far from the incriminating evidence that Adraee claimed the video showed.



The IDF Spokesperson published an edited video, comprised of clips that have no discernable connection to each other or to the specific day al-Najjar was killed, in order to justify the killing of the young paramedic, to prove that she was not simply an innocent nurse, and to present her as a terrorist or a potential terrorist.

The video is meant to tell us: it was okay to kill her, she was an Arab. And Israel’s mainstream media outlets, to prove their patriotism and boost their ratings, completely bought the IDF’s spin. They published the clip without question or clarification or warnings that it was not in any way verified, or nothing that it in no way justifies her killing. A broadcaster on one of Israel’s most-watched channels even said, without any proof of this in the video, that al-Najjar threw the tear gas canister “during a violent protest.”

“The IDF’s digital platforms are operational tools in the operational arm of the IDF,” Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis told a room full of Israel journalists several months ago. Manelis said openly that the IDF uses its digital platforms “to create deterrence and to blacken (tarnish) the enemy — either explaining that our enemy is really bad and to tarnish his name to say don’t join them, or to deter them.” The provocations of Avichay Adraee are simply part of the IDF’s operational strategy.

At least in Israel, the IDF Spokesperson’s current operation seems to be succeeding, with the generous help of mainstream journalists.

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where a version of this article was originally published in Hebrew.

What would you do if soldiers dragged your son out of bed in the middle of the night? | +972 Magazine

The soldiers pass through the house. In one of the rooms a terrified woman holds a small child, telling the soldiers that she is alone with the children. “Everything is okay,” the soldiers tell her. What is so okay about their forced presence in the middle of the night? After that, the soldiers tell the adults to bring the children to them. Young children are woken up in order to stand before the soldiers. The soldiers make another round inside the house, another round of talks with the adults, and the soldiers continue on their way. What was the purpose of the raid? What were they looking for? Who were they looking for? Did the soldiers themselves even know? Was the systematic fear the raid instilled itself the purpose of the raid?

Source: What would you do if soldiers dragged your son out of bed in the middle of the night? | +972 Magazine

Poet Galal El-Behairy’s ‘Letter from Tora Prison’


Ahead of the expected verdict for imprisoned Egyptian poet Galal El-Behairy, ArabLit — like PEN centers around the world — is sharing a work El-Behairy wrote in prison:

El-Behairy was arrested more than three months ago, on March 3, 2018, on charges related to his most recent book of poems, خير نسوان الأرض, The Finest Women on Earth (2018) and lyrics he wrote for Ramy Essam’s song “Balaha.” A campaign against him called him a spy, and called for his citizenship to be revoked.

In a statement, El-Behairy responded to the charges against his poems.

El-Behairy was held for a week without family or friends knowing his whereabouts before he appeared on March 10, reportedly showing signs of torture. While Egyptian prosecution did order a medical examination, according to PEN, the results have neither been made public nor shared with El-Behairy’s lawyer.

El-Behairy’s first court appearance was May 6, and he faced charges of being a member of a terrorist group, spreading false news, abuse of social-media networks, blasphemy, contempt of religion, and insulting the military. The verdict was initially to be handed down May 9. It was postponed to May 16, and is now expected June 27.

English PEN has urged “the Egyptian authorities to release him and the many other writers and activists unlawfully detained in Egypt immediately and unconditionally.” PEN International has also written an open letter to the Egyptian government, signed by PEN directors around the world.

To draw international attention to the case, several PEN centers, as well as Artists at Risk an ArabLit, are publishing a new poem El-Behairy wrote in detention. The translator wishes to remain unnamed, due to potential repercussions against himself and his family. 

A Letter from Tora Prison

By Galal El-Behairy

From the Tora Prison in Cairo

May 2018


 You, something

in the heart, unspoken,


in the throat, the last wish

of a man on the gallows

when the hour of hanging comes,

the great need

for oblivion; you, prison

and death, free of charge;

you, the truest meaning of man,

the word “no”—

I kiss your hand

and, preparing for the trial,

put on a suit and pray

for your Eid to come.

I’m the one

who escaped from the Mamluks,

I’m the child

whose father’s name is Zahran,

and I swim in your name, addiction.

I’m the companion of outlawed poets.

O my oblivion, I’m the clay

that precedes the law of concrete.


In the heart of this night

I own nothing

but my smile.

I take my country in my arms

and talk to her

about all the prisoners’ lives… out there

beyond the prison’s borders,

beyond the jailer’s grasp,

and about man’s need… for his fellow man,

about a dream

that was licit

and possible,

about a burden

that could be borne

if everyone took part in it.


I laugh at a song

they call “criminal,”

which provoked them

to erect a hundred barricades.

On our account, they block out the sun

and the thoughts in the head.

They want to hide the past

behind locks and bolts,

preventing him from whispering

about how things once were.

They want to hide him

by appointing guards—

weak-minded foreigners

estranged from the people.

But what wonder is this?

His fate is written

in all the prison cells.

His cell has neither bricks

nor steel,

and he was not defeated

within it.

Outside… a squadron of slaves.

Inside… a crucified messiah.

The thorns above his brow

are witnesses: You betrayed his revolution

with your own hands.

With shame in your eyes, you

are the Judases of the past,

whatever your religion, whatever

miniscule vision you have.

We’ve come back

and we see you.


You who imprisoned

the light, that naked groaning.

The light doesn’t care

how tall the fence is;

it’s not hemmed in

by steel bars

or officers’ uniforms.

It cannot be forgotten.

You can take a public square away from us,

but there are thousands and thousands of others,

and I’ll be there, waiting for you.

Our land will not betray us.

With each olive branch

we’re weaving your shrouds.

And the young man you killed

has come back, awake now

and angry.

He’s got a bone to pick

with his killer.

He’s got a bone to pick

with the one who betrayed him,

the one who, on that night of hope,

acquiesced, fell silent, and slept.

His wound has healed; he’s come back,

a knight

without a bridle;

he’s setting up the trial

while an imam prays among us

and illumines the one who was blind;

he’s rolling up his sleeves, preparing

for a fight;

he was killed—yes, it’s true—and yet

he has his role in this epic;

he stands there now

and holds his ground.


We’ve returned

to call on God

and proclaim it: “We’ve come back,

come back

hand in hand.”

Again we proclaim it: “We’ve come back,

and we vow

to spread the light,

the new dawn,

the keen-sighted conscience.”

We’ve come back, and we can smell

the fear in in your veins;

and our cheers tonight

are the sweetest of all:

“We are not afraid.

We are not afraid.”


We saw a country

rise from sleep

to trample a pharaoh

and cleanse the age

of the cane and cudgel.

We saw a country sing:

those were no slave songs,

no harbingers of doom, rather

songs fitting

for a new kind of steel.

We saw it.

We saw a country

where no one is oppressed.

Suggested actions:

Readers can add their support to the petition for Galal’s release.