‘David fighting Goliath’: Image of shirtless Gaza protester goes viral online

A striking image of a shirtless Palestinian protester has gone viral, drawing comparisons with the iconic French Revolution Painting ‘Liberty Leading the People’ and being described as a “David fighting Goliath” moment.

The photograph, which was captured in northern Gaza on October 22 by Mustafa Hassouna who works for the Turkish Anadolu Agency, shows a 20-year-old A'ed Abu Amro with a Palestinian flag in one hand and a slingshot in the other as smoke from burning tires billows behind him.

Contacted by Al Jazeera, Amro said he protests with friends every Monday and Friday and that he was “surprised” that the image went viral and that he didn’t notice any photographer near him. Friends spotted the image making the rounds online and shared it with him.

Amro told Al Jazeera that while the purpose of his protests was not to have his picture taken, the viral moment has encouraged him to continue demonstrating, adding that the flag he is carrying in the now-viral image is the same one he brings to every protest.

"If I get killed, I want to be wrapped in the same flag. We are demanding our right of return, and protesting for our dignity and the dignity of our future generation."

Palestinians have been protesting along the fence with Israel for months, demanding the right to return to the land they see as rightfully theirs and demanding an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed during protests since March, with thousands more injured.

On Twitter, many reacted to the photo with amazement, with some even suggesting the photographer deserves a Pulitzer prize and others saying it is so remarkable it looks “like art”.