The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is outraged by the death of Nazih Darwazeh, a Palestinian cameraman working with The Associated Press Television News (APTN), who was shot and killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Nablus on Saturday, April 19.
Darwazeh was shot in the head at close range while filming clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli troops in central Nablus on April 19 at around 9 a.m., according to Palestinian journalists who witnessed the incident. Video footage of the incident, reviewed by CPJ, appears to corroborate their accounts.
The shooting occurred after clashes erupted in Nablus when Israeli forces entered the city's downtown area in tanks, searching for an alleged Palestinian suicide bomber. Clashes broke out in several locations near the city's center, involving youths throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops. Some Palestinian gunmen were also observed firing guns, according to press accounts.
At the time that Darwazeh was shot, he had been filming an Israeli tank stranded at the corner of an alleyway. Darwazeh and several other Palestinian journalists were standing by a door in the alleyway. A few minutes before Darwazeh was killed, a Reuters cameraman Hassan Titi filmed a group of Palestinian youths running down the alley away from the stranded tank. Titi and Reuters photographer Abed Qusini, who were standing near Darwazeh, said that an Israeli soldier took a position near the tank and fired a single shot at the journalists from a distance of about 10 or 20 meters (11 to 22 yards). The shot shattered Darwazeh's camera, entering his head above the eye. He was killed instantly.
Titi and Qusini said there were no clashes or gunfire in the alley at the time. The AP reported that gunfire may have struck near the tank at around the same time, but that it likely came from a different direction from where Darwazeh was standing.
Maj. Sharon Feingold, a spokeswoman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), was quoted by the AP as saying that Israeli troops had been rescuing the stranded tank when they were attacked with stones, and "explosive devices and shots were fired from the crowd." Despite eyewitness accounts and video footage, the IDF said that it was unclear who fired the shot that killed Darwazeh.
Darwazeh and his colleagues were clearly identified as members of the press, based on the testimony of those at the scene and the video footage of the events. In fact, Darwazeh was wearing a fluorescent jacket marked press, and before the shooting, the journalists said they shouted loudly in both English and Hebrew indicating that they were with the media.
Darwazeh is the fourth journalist killed by Israeli gunfire in the last 13 months. Since the second intifada began in September 2000, CPJ has documented numerous other instances in which Israeli troops have fired on or in the direction of clearly identified journalists. The IDF's use of what human rights organizations describe as excessive and indiscriminate force poses a grave threat to journalists covering the conflict in the West Bank. We believe that the army's failure to conduct serious investigations and punish offenders fosters an environment of reckless and unlawful behavior in which soldiers who harm journalists face little or no consequences.
We demand an immediate and thorough inquiry into the shooting death of Nazih Darwazeh and call on you to ensure that those responsible are swiftly brought to justice.