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Cameraman badly injured by Israeli gunfire unable to leave Gaza Strip to get artificial legs in Egypt

(RSF/IFEX) - One month after asking Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak to investigate the circumstances in which Israeli soldiers fired on Palestinian cameraman Imad Ghanem on 5 July 2007 in the Gaza Strip, Reporters Without Borders has called for the results of the investigation to be published. Ghanem, who lost both legs as a result of the shooting, is meanwhile waiting to be allowed to leave the Gaza Strip and go to Egypt to be fitted with artificial legs.

"The only reaction from the Israeli authorities to our initial request for information, the day after the shooting, was to say that the origin of the shots could not be identified in the footage available, and to claim that Ghanem was 'working among the terrorists'," the press freedom organisation said. "We have not yet received a response from the Israeli government to our request for a thorough investigation."

Reporters Without Borders added: "Ghanem meanwhile needs help. He is still waiting for a chance to travel to Egypt to be given prosthetic limbs. He also needs reeducation sessions in order to be able to live normally and go back to work. We call on the Israeli and Egyptian authorities who control the Rafah crossing to act quickly so that he can receive the appropriate treatment."

Ghanem, who was working for Al-Aqsa TV, was seriously injured by Israeli army fire while covering an incursion to the east of the Al-Barij refugee camp in the centre of the Gaza Strip in which at least 11 Palestinians were killed. Although not wearing any item of clothing that said "Press" or "TV," he was carrying a TV camera and he was with a number of fellow journalists.

Ghanem told Reporters Without Borders on 9 August that the Israeli authorities have not tried to contact him for his version of what happened. He explained that he was not wearing any sign identifying him as a journalist because he did not have time to go to the TV station. "I went directly to the scene of the clashes, which were taking place near my home," he said. "I did not want to risk arriving too late."

Initially wounded by the blast of a rocket fired from a helicopter, Ghanem was lying on the ground with his camera beside him when Israeli troops fired at him. Footage filmed by his colleagues that has been widely available on the Internet shows him being hit in the legs by two shots fired in quick succession. He was taken to Deir-al-Balah where both of his legs were amputated. He is now in the care of the Association of Arab Doctors, which wants him transferred to an Egyptian hospital.

At least nine journalists have been wounded by Israeli military fire since the start of the year. For the most part, they were injured by shrapnel from stun or tear grenades or by rubber bullets.

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