April 16, 2008, in Gaza Strip, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Cameraman Shana, 23, was killed and soundman Wafa Abu Mizyed was wounded after they stopped their vehicle to film Israeli military forces several hundred feet away, Reuters reported. Shana was using a tripod-mounted camera when an Israeli tank fired on the men. Eight other bystanders, most under the age of 16, were killed.

The Reuters cameraman was wearing a flak jacket marked "Press" and had gotten out of a sport-utility vehicle bearing the markings "TV." A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Reuters: "In our operations we try to be as surgical as possible and make every effort not to see innocent people caught up in the fighting."

The Israeli military's subsequent investigation exonerated the soldiers responsible for the killing, saying that they had acted reasonably. "The tank crew was unable to determine the nature of the object mounted on the tripod and positively identify it as an antitank missile, a mortar, or a television camera," wrote the advocate general, Brig. Gen. Avihai Mendelblit.

Writing in CPJ's magazine Dangerous Assignments, Reuters Bureau Chief Alastair Macdonald responded: "To reach that 'reasonable' decision, the troops failed to note 'TV' signs plastered over his jeep as it drove, twice, along the road they were monitoring through high-tech sights during the preceding half-hour; they affirmed—questionably—that Fadel's body armor was 'common to Palestinian terrorists;' they failed to find the fact he stood in front of them, a mile away, for four minutes an indication that he was not a threat; and they did not consider the 20-odd children playing behind him."

Reuters and CPJ called for an independent investigation into the killing of Shana, saying that the military's conclusion left numerous questions unanswered.

Job:Camera Operator
Beats Covered:War
Local or Foreign:Local
Type of Death:Crossfire/Combat-Related
Suspected Source of Fire:Military Officials


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.