Cameraman shot dead while filming Israeli tank

New York, April 16, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists mourns the death today of a Reuters cameraman who was killed in the Gaza strip while filming an Israeli tank.

Cameraman Fadel Shana, 23, was killed and soundman Wafa Abu Mizyed, also in his 20s, was wounded after the crew stopped their car and began filming Israeli military forces located several hundred meters away, according to Reuters. Shana was filming the tank when it apparently fired on the Reuters TV crew.

“We are asking the Israeli authorities to publicly commit to carrying out an exhaustive investigation into this incident and to make its findings public,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “Previous investigations into such incidents have been marred by a lack of transparency and public accountability.”

“Film from Shana’s camera showed an Israeli tank stationed several hundred meters away opening fire. Some two seconds after the shot raises dust around the main gun barrel, the film goes blank—apparently at the moment Shana was hit,” Reuters reported.

The Reuters cameraman had just gotten out of an unarmed sport utility vehicle bearing markings as “TV” and “Press” when he was killed. The car was left burning after the attack. Shana’s body armor was partially torn from his body, reported Reuters. Soundman Abu Mizyed was dazed from the strike and immediately afterward had no recollection of the attack.

An Israeli spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Reuters in response to the attack: “In our operations we try to be as surgical as possible and make every effort not to see innocent people caught up in the fighting.”

Reuters Editor in Chief David Schlesinger called for an investigation into the incident. The final images Shana took as the tank fired on his vehicle are available at Reuters.

At least eight journalists have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza since 2001, and seven of them were killed in attacks by Israeli Defense Forces, according to CPJ research. The last attack occurred in July 2007 in the Gaza strip when Israeli tanks killed Imad Ghanem, a cameraman for the Hamas-affiliated satellite channel Al-Aqsa, as he was filming paramedics transferring victims of an Israeli tank attack.