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Israeli forces shoot MEE journalist in leg with rubber-coated bullet at al-Aqsa

Latifeh Abdellatif was covering preparations for Palestinian protest when she was shot, and has been hospitalised
Latifeh Abdelatif and Sondus Ewies being evacuated by medics (Social media)

Israeli forces shot Middle East Eye journalist Latifeh Abdellatif in the knee with a rubber-coated bullet as they raided Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday. She has been hospitalised.

Abdellatif was covering preparations for a Palestinian protest in support of the Prophet Muhammad, which had been called in response to the insults directed at him during a far-right Israeli march through occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday.

However, before Palestinians could begin their own march from al-Aqsa to the Old City’s Damascus Gate, Israeli forces raided the mosque’s courtyard, firing rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and stun grenades.

Another MEE contributor, Sondus Ewies, was also wounded. The extent of her injuries is unclear.

The Palestinian Red Crescent has reported nine Palestinians wounded in the raid so far, with three hospitalised. 

Rising tensions

Last month, repeated violent Israeli raids at al-Aqsa ratcheted up tensions in Jerusalem and across Palestinian territories and Israel. 

The al-Aqsa raids and threatened forced expulsions of Palestinian families in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood prompted the Hamas movement to fire rockets into Israeli territory on 10 May, and Israel subesquently waged an 11-day bombing campaign on the besieged Gaza Strip.

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Palestinians were also provoked by a far-right "Flag March" celebrating Israel's capture of East Jerusalem in 1967, which was half-heartedly cancelled at the last moment.

After Israeli airstrikes killed 248 Palestinians in Gaza, including 66 children, and Palestinian rockets killed 13 in Israel, including two children, Israel and Hamas agreed an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire.

Israel nonetheless carried out the rescueduled Flag March on Tuesday, which was followed by incendiary balloons sent from Gaza into Israel and Israeli bombing of the enclave over the past two nights.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians gathered around the entrance of the occupied West Bank village of Beita on Friday after prayers, continuing weekly protests against an illegal Israeli settlement outpost in Jabal Sabih on its rural outskirts.

Israeli forces - which have killed five Palestinian protesters in Beita over the past two months, including a 15-year-old and 16-year-old - cracked down on the demonstration, wounding 47, according to the Red Crescent. Three have been hospitalised, the humanitarian network said.

A fire also broke out in a vegetable market's warehouse in Beita, sparked by the heavy firing of tear gas cannisters.

Journalists under attack

Israeli forces' violent treatment of journalists in recent weeks has been condemned by rights groups and press freedom adovcates.

Abdellatif was beaten and pepper sprayed on 18 May by Israeli forces, who also tried to remove her headscarf, while she was filming the detention of a young boy in East Jerusalem.

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Covering the nationwide Palestinian general strike at the Damascus Gate, Abdellatif reported seeing a child being detained by Israeli forces. His father and other Palestinians nearby tried to stop the detention, which sparked a confrontation.

Abdellatif then tried to film the incident, but was pushed by Israeli officers, despite making it clear to them that she was a reporter.

“I’m a journalist, I’m a journalist,” Abdellatif repeated at the time.

The repeated violence against journalists has been condemned by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“Israeli authorities must cease arresting and attacking journalists, who play a vital role reporting the news and bringing clarity amid chaos,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado last month.