For the second time in less than three months, a Palestinian photojournalist has lost his eye after being hit by Israeli forces during a protest.
A tear gas canister hit Attiyah Darwish’s face in December 2018 while he was covering the weekly Friday protests in the Gaza Strip near the Israeli separation barrier.
The protests have been part of the Great March of the Return movement, which began in March 2018 as Palestinians demanded the right of return to lands their families were violently expelled from during the founding of Israel in 1948.
The protests have also called for an end to the 12-year blockade on the coastal enclave.
According to Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, at least 215 Palestinians have been killed during the demonstrations, including two journalists. Tens of thousands of others have been wounded.
Darwish, who sought medical treatment for his eye in Egypt and Jordan since his injury, was told on Sunday that he had lost all vision in his left eye.
“I was taking pictures, then suddenly I felt a heavy blow on my face with a muffled explosion,” the 32-year-old told Palestinian news agencies, recalling the moment he was injured.
“I fell down from the pain and the shock.”
Darwish suffered several fractures and broken bones in his face and jaw, and severe bleeding in his left eye and ear, which initially resulted in at least 80 percent of severe visual impairment, his doctors said.
According to Jordanian doctor Faisal Tawfiq Fayyad, Darwish’s left eye suffered a scar in the centre of his vision, and despite multiple surgeries, ended up in an irreversible loss of sight.
The photographer’s lower jaw was repaired and the broken bones in the left side of his face were replaced with a metal plate.
Palestinian social media users circulated the hashtag #AttiyaEye and #EyeOfTruth in Arabic after a popular support campaign for photographer Muath Amarneh went viral last November.
Amarneh, a freelance journalist, was hit in the eye by an Israeli rubber-coated bullet while covering a protest in the occupied West Bank town of Surif near the city of Hebron.
In a show of support, activists from a number of countries took photos of themselves covering an eye with one hand and posted them on social media, alongside another hashtag #MuathEye.
Darwish currently works for the Palestinian Alray news agency and has been a photographer for the past 10 years.
“I don’t feel the left side of my face, and the intense pain doesn’t leave me. especially during the cold and when I eat,” Darwish said, adding that he will continue to take photographs.
“I still have one eye though.”