Mohamed Abu Halima, a Palestinian journalism student at An-Najah National University in Nablus and a correspondent for university-affiliated An-Najah National University Radio, was shot on March 22, 2004, at the entrance of the Balata refugee camp, outside the city of Nablus, according to local Palestinian journalists. Abu Halima, who also worked as a freelance photographer, was reporting on Israeli troop activity near the camp.
Moaz Shraida, a producer and host at the station who was speaking to the journalist moments before he was killed, said that Abu Halima described three Israeli jeeps about 1 mile (2 kilometers) away from the camp’s entrance, where he was standing. Shraida said that Abu Halima told him that he had begun to photograph the jeeps. Shraida said he then heard gunfire and lost contact with Abu Halima.
Shraida spoke later to Abu Halima’s cousin, who was at the scene. The cousin said that Abu Halima was struck by Israeli gunfire in the stomach and died at a local hospital. CPJ has not been able to speak with Abu Halima’s cousin or independently confirm his account.
A family member of Abu Halima told CPJ that the journalist was dressed in street clothing the day of the shooting. Local journalists told CPJ that witnesses said that Abu Halima was standing among a crowd of people at the entrance of the camp when he was shot. The journalists also said that prior to the shooting there had been clashes in the area between Palestinian youths and the Israeli army.
In a voicemail message to CPJ, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces who identified himself as Sam Weiderman said that "as far as we know, [Abu Halima] was not a journalist," that Abu Halima "was armed and he opened fire on IDF forces," and that the IDF "returned fire."
The IDF did not announce an investigation into Abu Halima’s killing.
In 2009, Abu Halima’s father, Adel Abu Halima, recalled his son’s killing in an interview with local news website Asdaa Press. He said that he was listening to the An-Najah radio station to learn about the clashes, when an anchor repeatedly asked Abu Halima to stay away from the army, moments before he was killed.
CPJ asked the IDF about Abu Halima and other cases of IDF killings of journalists in an April 2023 email. The IDF did not respond to the query about Abu Halima’s case but said “it sees great importance in preserving the freedom of the press and the professional work of journalists.”
This report was updated on April 25, 2023.