Miller, a British freelance cameraman and film director with U.K.-based
Frostbite Films, was fatally shot in the Gaza Strip. An award-winning
documentary filmmaker, the journalist was with a crew in the town of
Rafah in southern Gaza near the Egyptian border filming an HBO
documentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That evening, he and
his four-person crew were in a Palestinian home filming the army’s
demolition of houses in the area that the Israeli army alleged
contained tunnels used to smuggle arms.
According to published testimonies of eyewitnesses and an Associated
Press Television News cameraman who was filming in the same house, the
incident occurred between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., when the group
decided to leave. Miller, his producer Saira Shah, and translator Abdul
Rahman Abdullah attempted to identify themselves to the Israeli troops
in the area while they were leaving. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
troops were in armored personnel carriers (APCs) about 330 feet (100
meters) away from the house where the journalists had been filming.
The journalists were wearing jackets and helmets marked “TV.” Abdullah
waved a white flag while Miller used a flashlight to illuminate the
flag. As they approached the APCs, the journalists shouted “Hello,” and
then a shot was fired. The journalists yelled that they were British
journalists, and a second shot was fired immediately after. In video
footage of the incident, it appears that that the second shot hit
Miller, who was struck in the neck. Several more shots followed.
An Israeli army spokesman was quoted as saying that troops in the area
returned fire after being fired on by rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).
Later, the army said that Miller was struck by a bullet from behind,
claiming that he may have been hit by Palestinian fire.
A detailed onsite investigation sponsored by Miller’s colleagues,
friends, and family and conducted by British security consultant Chris
Cobb-Smith of Chiron Resources Limited security company (www.chiron-resources.com)
concluded that Miller and his crew “were consciously and deliberately
targeted by the IDF soldiers.” The report added that it is not clear
“whether this action is a deliberate policy by the IDF or whether this
incident is a result of ill discipline and malicious intent by the
junior soldiers.” A copy of the investigation is available at a Web
site hosted by James Miller’s family, www.justice4jamesmiller.com.
According to the investigation, the area where Miller’s crew was
operating was quiet for about an hour before he was killed. Prior to
that time, witnesses heard only sporadic gunfire, but not in the
journalists’ vicinity. The report concluded that the IDF must have
known that the journalists were in the area.
After viewing the video taken of the incident, Cobb-Smith discounted
the IDF’s claim that RPG fire had occurred before the troops opened
fire on the journalists and observed that the shots were fired without
warning. Based on the trajectory of the bullets fired, as well as the
unanimous testimony of eyewitnesses who said the fire came from the
direction of the APC’s, Cobb-Smith also disagrees with suggestions from
Israeli officials that the shots came from behind the crew.
As of press time, an Israeli military police investigation into the
incident was under way, and the IDF’s investigation had not been made