Hussam Salama

Job:
Medium:
Beats Covered:
Gender:
Local or Foreign:
Freelance:

Salama, a
cameraman for the Hamas-run station, and fellow Al-Aqsa cameraman Mahmoud
al-Kumi were killed when
an Israeli missile hit their car in the Al-Shifaa neighborhood of central Gaza,
the station and other news organizations reported. Al-Kumi and Salama had completed
an assignment at Al-Shifaa Hospital as part of their coverage of Israeli
airstrikes in the neighborhood, Mohammed Thouraya, head of Al-Aqsa TV, told
The
Associated Press
. The journalists’ car was marked “TV” with neon-colored letters,
the station said. Al-Kumi and Salama suffered severe burns and died at Al-Shifaa
Hospital, news reports said.

The
deaths came during eight days of violence along the Israel-Gaza border that
included Palestinian cross-border rocket strikes and Israeli bombardments of
Gaza. Two days earlier, Israeli airstrikes targeted two buildings housing several
local and international news organizations, injuring at least nine journalists
and causing significant damage.

The Associated Press quoted Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military
spokeswoman, as saying the men were “Hamas operatives.” A entry posted on the
Israel Defense Forces blog asserted that an individual named Muhammed Shamalah, whom it referred to as a Hamas military commander, had been targeted in an airstrike that
struck a vehicle identified as “TV.”

Neither Leibovich nor the IDF blog entry provided any supporting details
for the assertions. An IDF spokesman said he could not respond immediately to
CPJ queries seeking further information about its claims. Samir Abu Mohsin, head of programming for Al-Aqsa, told CPJ that
the IDF allegations were false, that the two cameramen performed no military
functions, and that they were on assignment in a civilian area when they were
killed.

The IDF did not respond to multiple written and phone requests
from CPJ seeking substantiation for its accusations. Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu also did not respond to a December 2 letter
from CPJ that requested supporting evidence for the IDF’s claims. Mark Regev, spokesman
for the prime minister, told Agence-France
Presse
that Netanyahu would respond to CPJ through the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
As of late December 2012, however, the embassy had not responded.

In a report issued on December 20, Human Rights Watch said
it found no evidence to show that Salama and al-Kumi had been Hamas operatives
or had engaged in any military activity. The group said the killings of the two
cameramen and the attacks on the Gaza media centers were violations of the laws
of war.