Mohammed Nour al-Din al-Deiri

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Mohammed Al-Deiri, who worked for the Palestine Network for Press and Media, was killed in late July 2014 while covering the Israeli bombardment of the Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza, according to his employer and his father. At least 16 other people were killed in the incident, including the Palestine Network’s correspondent Rami Rayan and Sameh al-Aryan, a cameraman for the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV channel, according to news reports.

The Palestine Network crew was at the Shijaiyah 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 told CPJ that the network’s editor, Mahmoud al-Qasas, had been badly injured in the strike and was hospitalized with head injuries. The local Al-Manara media agency said on Facebook its cameraman, Hamid al-Shobaky, was also injured and hospitalized in the incident; the post appears to have been taken down. 

There were conflicting reports on the role al-Deiri, a Palestinian, played for the network. A statement issued by the network said he was a cameraman. But al-Deiri’s father, Nour al-Deiri, told CPJ that his son worked more as an assistant to Rayan, helping to carry equipment and cover events, including shooting video.

There were also conflicting reports on when al-Deiri died and when he was buried. The regional press freedom group, SKeyes, said he was killed on July 30 and his body was only found two days later. However, al-Deiri’s father told CPJ in 2023 that his son was injured on July 30, 2014, and died the next day.

A graphic video posted by the Al-Manara media agency and reviewed by CPJ at the time shows repeated explosions rocking Shijaiyah on July 30, 2014, as the injured cry out for help amid ringing sirens. At the beginning of the video, which has since been removed from Facebook, Rayan is seen filming as ambulances arrive wearing a clearly marked press helmet and vest. At minute 3:49, the video shows Rayan lying dead between the two ambulances he had been filming minutes earlier. The video then cuts to al-Deiri lying in an alleyway in the fetal position, blood pooling at his feet. Several bystanders create a makeshift gurney out of a blanket and carry al-Deiri away. Unlike Rayan, al-Deiri is wearing civilian clothing: jeans and a black T-shirt. No camera or press equipment can be seen in the video.

An internal IDF committee led by investigators who had not been part of the chain of command during the incident found that the “tragic” civilian deaths on July 30 were the result of “a number of coincidences and series of events that a military commander should not be expected to predict,” according to a statement published in March 2015. The committee said that IDF forces fired mortar shells in response to enemy fire, not realizing that a previous round of IDF mortar fire had struck a civilian building and led to civilians, including journalists, to gather in the area despite previous orders to evacuate. The committee said that aerial surveillance was unavailable at the time but previous surveillance had not spotted civilians and that mortar shells were chosen in lieu of more powerful artillery shells to minimize collateral damage. The committee also said it could not rule out the possibility that some of the casualties that day resulted from Palestinian fire.

The final report of the U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, published in June 2015, cast doubt on whether the IDF took full precautions in minimizing civilian casualties in this instance, specifically questioning why the IDF did not have real-time aerial surveillance and did not use weapons more precise than mortar rounds. It concluded that the incident may have violated the prohibition against indiscriminate attacks.

CPJ asked the IDF about al-Deiri and other cases of IDF killings of journalists in an April 2023 email. The IDF did not respond to the query about al-Deiri’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.