A journalist films a burning building in Gaza's Shijaiyah district on July 20. (AFP/Thomas Coex)
A journalist films a burning building in Gaza's Shijaiyah district on July 20. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

Palestinian cameraman killed during Israeli assault

New York, July 21, 2014–A Palestinian cameraman was killed in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyah on Sunday, according to news reports and the journalist’s colleague. More than 60 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in clashes between Israeli and Hamas forces in Shijaiyah that day, according to news reports.

Khaled Reyadh Hamad was working on a film for the local Continue Production Films about the dangers Palestinian medics face while working in Gaza, the company’s owner, Alaa Alool, told CPJ. Hamad was accompanying an ambulance in Shijaiyah when the vehicle was hit by a shell fired by Israeli forces, Alool said. A second shell hit, killing the journalist and Fouad Jaber, a Palestinian medic, Alool said.

At the time of the shelling, Alool was at an ambulance station when he heard over the radio that Hamad had been hit. Alool said he waited at a local hospital for four hours until he received confirmation that Hamad had been killed. News reports said that the violence in Shijaiyah was so intense and the number of casualties so high that ambulances were unable to transport the wounded.

Graphic pictures on social media showed Hamad in the hospital, wearing a flak jacket clearly marked as press, with his camera resting on his body.

The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately respond to CPJ’s request for comment on Hamad’s death. They have also not responded to requests for comment on the targeting of a press car that killed driver Hamid Shihab on July 9 or the airstrikes against two buildings housing media outlets last week. Moroccan Medi 1 TV reported that its cameraman, Kareem al-Tartouri, was also injured in the airstrike on Al-Jawhara tower in Gaza City on July 18, which raises the total number of injured journalists in last week’s dual airstrikes to at least four.

Israel’s Government Press Office said in a statement to journalists on Sunday that “Israel is not in any way responsible for injury or damage that may occur” and warned that Hamas “has frequently exploited journalists as human shields.” It urged journalists to take “every possible precaution [to] be safe in your mission.”

The Israeli government has not provided evidence that casualties among journalists and media workers were the result of the press being used as human shields.

“It is tragic that a cameraman documenting the dangers faced by medics seeking to help civilians caught in this relentless fighting should himself be killed,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Journalists in Gaza are not allowing themselves to be used as shields. They are trying to do their job. As such, they should be treated as civilians and afforded protection under international law.”

More than 550 Palestinians and 27 Israelis have been killed since the fighting began on July 8, according to news reports.

Another journalist was injured in Jerusalem and hospitalized for injuries sustained to his leg, according to reports. Ahmad Budeiri, correspondent for the local TV station Palestine Today, was broadcasting clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces in the Al-Issawiya neighborhood, according to the local press freedom group Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms. The report said Budeiri was fired upon by Israeli security forces. A video posted to Budeiri’s YouTube page on Sunday shows him yelling as he falls to the ground clutching his left leg. It is not clear what kind of round hit Budeiri, but Israeli security forces frequently use rubber-coated metal bullets to disperse protesters.