Palestinian photographer targeted - group
Jerusalem - A Palestinian photographer who was shot on Sunday while covering protests in the Gaza Strip may have been "deliberately targeted" by an Israeli soldier, a media rights group said on Tuesday.
"Reporters Without Borders was told that (Mohammed) Othman was clearly identifiable as a journalist at the time of the shooting and was deliberately targeted," Reporters Sans Frontieres said.
Othman was critically wounded as he covered demonstrations near the Erez crossing in northern Gaza.
The Israeli military told AFP it had received no official complaint about the incident.
"The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) categorically rejects the claim that any journalists were intentionally injured as without any basis in fact," said a statement to AFP.
"The IDF is in constant contact with the Foreign Press Association and no complaint was received regarding this incident through any of the established channels."
The statement said Israeli troops had fired on "rioters" as they attempted to "violently breach the border with Israel" on Sunday.
"IDF soldiers fired in a controlled manner so as to disperse the rioters and prevent them illegally entering Israeli territory," the statement said.
The demonstration was one of several staged by Palestinians across the West Bank, Gaza and on Israel's borders with Syria and Lebanon to mourn the "Nakba" or "catastrophe" of Israel's founding in 1948.
RSF said it urged the Israeli authorities "to investigate the circumstances in which he was shot and punish those responsible".
Medical sources and Othman's family told AFP on Tuesday that he was still in hospital in a "critical but stable" condition.
"He underwent an operation early this morning to remove a piece of shrapnel from his spine," said Adham Abu Selmiya, a spokesperson for the Hamas-run medical services in the Gaza Strip.
A doctor at Shifa hospital in Gaza City said Othman, 26, was shot in the arm and was hit in the chest by shrapnel, which entered his lungs and spine.
Othman was working for Demotix.com, a British photo news agency.
The agency's Facebook page carried a photograph showing Othman being carried away by demonstrators, covered in blood, after apparently being hit.
RSF said two other journalists were injured in the clashes that accompanied the Gaza demonstration on Sunday.