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CAMERAMAN KILLED WHILE FILMING ISRAELI TANK

A Palestinian cameraman working for Reuters was killed in the Gaza Strip by an apparently unprovoked Israeli military strike, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) and Reuters.

Fadel Shana was covering events in the area for the international news agency on 16 April, a day of intense violence when 16 other Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers were also killed, said Reuters.

Shana and soundman Wafa Abu Mizyed stopped their unarmoured sport utility vehicle, marked "Press" and "TV" in large letters, and Shana stepped out to film an Israeli tank several hundred metres away. According to Reuters, the tank then started firing at the crew and left the car shattered and ablaze.

"Fadel set up his camera and the tripod and asked me to push away some children who had gathered around us? There were no fighters or any shooting there. While I was doing so, I heard a sound like 'boof'," Mizyed told Human Rights Watch. "I looked towards Fadel and found him lying on the ground... I was also injured on my left hand. Fadel died. Another shell landed behind the truck and injured me in my right hand and the waist."

The explosions killed Shana and three bystanders, including two teenagers. The final images Shana took as the tank fired on his vehicle are available at Reuters.

Human Rights Watch's investigations at the site suggest that an Israeli tank crew fired recklessly or deliberately at the journalist's team. "Israeli soldiers did not make sure they were aiming at a military target before firing, and there is evidence suggesting they actually targeted the journalists," said Human Rights Watch.

According to Human Rights Watch, minutes after the tank shelling, three other journalists who tried to reach the area in an armoured vehicle, also marked "Press", also came under tank fire.

The Israeli army declined immediate comment on what caused Shana's death. It expressed sorrow but also said journalists were putting their lives at risk in areas of combat.

The IFEX members and Reuters are calling for an immediate, impartial and public investigation into the incident. CPJ noted, "Previous investigations into such incidents have been marred by a lack of transparency and public accountability."

According to CPJ, at least eight journalists have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza since 2001, and seven of them were killed in attacks by Israeli Defence Forces.

Visit these links:
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/3o9xj9
- Human Rights Watch: http://tinyurl.com/3v2anr
- Human Rights Watch, "Indiscriminate Fire: Palestinian Rocket Attacks on Israel and Israeli Artillery Shelling in the Gaza Strip" (July 2007): http://hrw.org/reports/2007/iopt0707/
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=6076&Language=EN
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=26657
- MADA (email): madapalestine (@) yahoo (.) com
- Reuters: http://tinyurl.com/63m5df
(22 April 2008)

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