Letters   |   Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

CPJ calls for investigation into shooting of journalist in Gaza Strip

Dear Lieutenant General Yaalon:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is alarmed by the shooting of a Palestinian cameraman in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday.

On January 2, Majdi al-Arabid, who was on assignment for Israel's Channel 10 TV, was shot in the stomach near Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip while reporting on IDF operations against Palestinians suspected of firing rockets into Israel. Channel 10 reporter Sholmi Eldar, who witnessed the incident, told CPJ that IDF troops were responsible.

Eldar said that at the time of the incident, he was standing with al-Arabid about 300 meters (990 feet) away from a building surrounded by Israeli tanks and with three Israeli soldiers on its roof. He described the area as an open field where several children were. Eldar said he and al-Arabid had been in the area for about 10 minutes carrying their equipment.

In an attempt to identify themselves as journalists, Eldar told CPJ, al-Arabid waved at the soldiers with his microphone. Minutes later, Eldar said a single shot rang out from the direction of the rooftop, and al-Arabid fell to the ground. Eldar said that while there had been clashes in the general vicinity earlier that day, at the time of the shooting there was no fire in the area.

Al-Arabid is recovering in a local hospital.

An IDF spokesman said soldiers were unaware that journalists were in the area, and that no fire was directed at reporters, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. IDF officials told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that al-Arabid may have been wounded by Palestinian fire, a charge Eldar rejected.

The IDF said it is investigating the incident, but Eldar, who was filming at the time of the incident, said the army had not yet contacted him about the footage.

CPJ remains gravely concerned by the disturbing number of incidents in which journalists have been wounded or killed by IDF fire. Since 2000, dozens have been injured by live IDF rounds or rubber bullets. At least seven journalists have been killed in the Occupied Territories since 2000--all by Israeli gunfire. Few if any of these cases have been seriously investigated or publicly accounted for.

We urge you to ensure that the IDF investigation now under way into the shooting of Majdi al-Arabid is conducted thoroughly and expeditiously, and that its findings are made public.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,


Ann Cooper
Executive Director

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