New York, July 30, 2014–Palestinian journalist Rami Rayan was killed today in an Israeli air strike on a market in the Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza, according to his employer and news reports. At least 16 other people were killed and 160 wounded in the strike, according to news reports.
“We condemn the killing of Palestinian journalist Rami Rayan in Gaza by the Israel Defense Forces,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Israel is showing little evidence to back its claim that it tries to avoid civilian casualties, including those of journalists, in its assault on Gaza.”
Rayan, a photographer for the local news agency the Palestine Network for Press and Media, was at the market to cover Palestinian citizens shopping for basic necessities during a four-hour truce called by the Israeli military, Nasr Abu Foul, the network’s manager, told CPJ. Abu Foul said that the network’s editor, Mahmoud al-Khassas, was also badly injured in the strike and had been hospitalized with head injuries.
Graphic pictures on the network’s Facebook page show Rayan in the hospital wearing a press helmet. Another photo by AFP/Getty Images shows him wearing a helmet and a vest marked “PRESS.”
CPJ’s calls and emails to the Israel Defense Forces’ spokesperson’s unit were not immediately returned.
Harry Fear, a freelancer reporting in Gaza for the Kremlin-owned broadcast outlet RT (previously known as Russia Today), told CPJ that Hamas security officers asked him on Tuesday to leave Gaza within 24 hours after he tweeted about a rocket launch near his location two weeks ago. Three weeks ago, the Gaza-based Interior Ministry posted media guidelines that warned against publishing information about rocket launches or other military activities. Fear told CPJ that the border crossing was closed today but that security officials confirmed their demand he leave Gaza. Several journalists, including Fear, have faced sharp criticism online for tweeting about Hamas military activity, according to news reports.
Earlier this week, Israel Defense Forces launched air strikes against media buildings housing the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV and other news outlets, according to news reports. This followed similar strikes over the past few weeks. No injuries were reported in the most recent strikes.
More than 1,300 Palestinians and 58 Israelis have been killed since the conflict began, according to reports. Most of the Palestinian deaths have been civilians. One other journalist and one media worker have been killed while covering the conflict.