The Israeli army arrested Mohammad Al-Azza (Musa), the director of Lajee Center’s Media Unit and a photographer for the Palestine News Network, early in the morning of July 1. Mohammad has been chronicling popular protests in Aida Refugee Camp for many months now. On April 8, the Israeli army tried to stop him from doing this work by shooting him in the face. He spent weeks in the hospital recovering. The second night after his return home from the hospital, the Israeli army tried to arrest him, but he was not at home. Months later, he is still healing and facing more surgeries. His current arrest is also due to his brave work documenting these protests.
Even in a season when dozens of people have been arrested in Aida Refugee Camp, this arrest raid was especially vicious. Dozens of Israeli soldiers surrounded his family house at around 2:30 a.m., invading the homes of three of his relatives, and beating his parents, uncles, aunts, brother, and cousins. Israeli soldiers handcuffed several men. Three of his relatives were later taken to the hospital for treatment. Israeli soldiers also beat Mohammad severely during the arrest, even though his recent injury is plain to see. His lawyer, who saw him briefly later in the day, said that there is evidence of beating on many parts of his body.
Mohammad’s photography and videography of both the activities of Lajee and life in Aida Camp as a whole is invaluable for his local community and for Lajee’s community around the world. Mohammad is a much loved part of these communities. We wish him a swift and safe return, and for the return of all prisoners to their loved ones.