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Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Blog   |   Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Israeli army decision endangers journalists in Gaza

ReutersIn the Gaza Strip, anyone with a camera is fair game. That's the inescapable conclusion from the Israeli army's investigation into why one of its tank crews fired at least two shells at a Reuters television journalist openly filming them from a mile away.

The cameraman, Fadel Shana, 24, filmed the muzzle flash of the Merkava-4 tank that sent a dart-scattering shell above his head. The screen goes black as Shana falls dead in an open patch of sandy ground near the Israel-Gaza border, southwest of Gaza City on April 16. His soundman, Wafa Abu Mizyed, is wounded. Eight other civilians, aged between 12 and 20, were killed; six of them were under 16. At least seven other bystanders aged from 10 to 18 were also hit. None was armed or was a militant.

In a six-page letter to Thomson Reuters dated August 12, the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) military advocate general, Brig.-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit, absolves the tank crew and their superiors of any responsibility or criminal wrongdoing. The letter outlines some of the findings of a confidential inquiry into the killing. It skates over testimony from witnesses quoted by Reuters and other media and human rights groups, and concludes that the decision to fire a shell designed to kill concentrations of battlefield infantry at a two-man TV crew was "reasonable" and "sound."


August 14, 2008 4:06 PM ET

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