Sameh al-Aryan

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Palestinian cameraman Sameh al-Aryan was killed in an Israeli bombardment on a market in the Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza on July 30, 2014, according to his employer and news reports. At least 16 other people were killed and 160 wounded in the strike.

Al-Aryan, a cameraman for the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV channel, went to the market to take pictures of the bombardment when a second round of bombing hit, Samir Abu Mohsen, the channel’s program director, told CPJ.

Rami Rayan, a photographer for the local news agency the Palestine Network for Press and Media, was also killed in the bombardment, Nasr Abu Foul, the network’s manager, told CPJ. Rayan was at the market to cover Palestinian citizens shopping for basic necessities during a four-hour truce called by the Israeli military, Abu Foul said. Mohammed Nour al-Din al-Deiri, a Palestinian media worker for the Palestine Network for Press and Media, was also killed as a result of the attack that day.

At least two other journalists were injured in the strikes. 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 in a Facebook post that appears to be removed that its cameraman, Hamid al-Shobaky, was also injured and hospitalized.

A graphic video posted by Al-Manara on its Facebook page and reviewed by CPJ at the time shows repeated explosions rocking Shijaiyah, as the injured cry out for help amid ringing sirens; the post appears to have been removed. At the beginning of the video, Rayan is seen filming as ambulances arrive. By the end, he lies dead on the street among other victims. According to CNN, the video came from al-Shobaky’s camera. After he was injured, his assistant picked up the camera and continued to film.

An internal Israel Defense Forces 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-Aryan and other cases of IDF killings of journalists in an April 2023 email. The IDF did not respond to the query about al-Aryan’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.