For the second time in three months, a Palestinian photojournalist has lost an eye in an attack by Israeli military forces. Attiya Darwish was hit by a tear gas canister in his face while covering protests at the Gaza Strip in December of 2018. After seeking medical treatment at several hospitals, he was told on Sunday, January 19, that he had lost all vision in his left eye.
Darwish, who worked as a photographer for the Palestinian Al-Rai News Agency, was injured while covering the weekly Friday protests in the Gaza Strip near the Israeli separation barrier, dubbed the Great March of Return.
“I was taking pictures like all other photojournalists, and wearing safety gear, until I suddenly felt something striking my face,” the 32-year-old photographer told Palestinian news agencies at a Gaza hospital after his injury in 2018.
Hyperallergic has reached out to the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson for comment.
Darwish suffered several fractures and broken bones in his face and jaw, and severe bleeding in his left eye and ear. His lower jaw was later repaired and the broken bones in the left side of his face were replaced with a metal plate, but a scar in his left eye eventually caused an irreversible loss of sight, despite multiple surgeries in Jordan and Egypt.
Palestinian social media users responded to news about Darwish’s injury with the hashtag #AttiyaEye. One tweet shows Darwish’s left eye covered with bandaid with a caption that reads: “#Attiya’s eye, closed by order of the occupation forces.”
In November of 2019, photographer Muath Amarneh lost his eye from a rubber bullet fired by Israeli soldiers. Amarneh was wounded in his face while covering a protest in the occupied West Bank.
According to AlJazeera, Israel’s border police denied targeting Amarneh at the protest near the city of Hebron and said it had used “nonlethal” means to disperse the crowd.
In a social media campaign that went viral last November, photojournalists and activists from around the world took photos of themselves covering an eye with one hand in solidarity with Amarneh. The images were circulated under the hashtags #MuathEye, or #EyeOfTruth. The latter is now being used to show support for Darwish as well.
According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, more than 215 Palestinians have been killed during the Great March of Return demonstrations, including at least two journalists. Tens of thousands of others have been injured.
Despite his injury, Darwish pledged to return to work, saying, “I will continue to bring the truth and broadcast the message of Palestinian photojournalists to the world.”