Artist Rehab Nazzal Allegedly Shot by Israeli Defense Forces

The soldiers were spraying a neighborhood with "skunk."

Rehab Nazzal. Photo: Rehab Nazzal.

Toronto-based Palestinian artist Rehab Nazzal was allegedly shot by a sniper in Israel while taking photographs on December 11, according to statements released on Facebook and in a press release on a Palestinian prisoner solidarity website.

She was in Bethlehem, reportedly snapping images of members of the Israeli Defense Forces spraying a Palestinian neighborhood with “skunk,” a smelly, nonlethal liquid used for crowd control.

“I felt something like a fire sting in my leg and looked down to see the blood bursting all over my shoes and pants. I didn’t realize what happened until an ambulance drove toward me and two paramedics rushed with a stretcher…” wrote Nazzal of the incident on Facebook. “At that moment, the occupation forces rained the ambulance with teargas. The two brave paramedics carried me through the clouds of teargas while suffocating.”

This past December, Nazzal showed 1,500 photographs of Gaza sourced from the Internet at the Art Gallery of Mississauga in Ontario. She has been documenting clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters since October.

Rehab Nazzal took this photograph showing an Israeli sniper just before she was shot. Photo: Rehab Nazzal.

One of Rehab Nazzal’s images from Bethlehem.
Photo: Rehab Nazzal, via Facebook.

Nazzal, a PhD candidate in the Visual Arts Department at University of Western Ontario, reached out to two of her colleagues at the school to help publicize the incident. David Heap, an activist and the co-director of the inter-faculty linguistics program, and artist Jamelie Hassan helped publicize the alleged shooting.

“What shocked me was the fact that I was alone, with no clashes, no stone throwers, absolutely no one around me, and yet I was intentionally shot by a sniper,” said Nazzal in the statement. “This was not an accident.”

“I am now feeling much better, with the fever decreasing, and the wound is healing,” Nazzal told artnet News in an e-mail. “I am not sure I will ever recover from the shock.”

Rehab Nazzal took this photograph showing crowds fleeing from an Israeli "skunk" truck just before she was shot. Photo: Rehab Nazzal.

Rehab Nazzal took this photograph before she was shot.
Photo: Rehab Nazzal, via Facebook.

Eitan Weiss, a spokesperson for the Israeli embassy in Ottawa, told the Ottawa Citizen that there was no report of the incident, and that in cases of a non-lethal injury to an individual “it’s very difficult to prove that it ever happened, and it’s very difficult to prove that it didn’t happen.”

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics