No justice for murdered journalist

25 August 2008

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Palestinian journalists hold posters of Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana’a outside the UN headquarters in Gaza City, 21 August 2008. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)


The Israeli military advocate-general stated in a 12 August letter to the Reuters news agency that it had found Israeli soldiers had acted properly in the April killing Fadel Shana’a, a 23-year-old Palestinian journalist in Gaza working as a cameraman for the Reuters news agency. On 16 April Shana’a was killed by a shell fired from an Israeli tank while filming near the Juhor al-Dik village in the central Gaza Strip where there had been Israeli attacks earlier that day.

Two children who were nearby were also killed by the tank shell, and a second shell killed a 22-year-old civilian. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, a total of 13 unarmed Palestinian civilians, including eight children, were killed in the area of Juhor al-Dik that day and an additional 32 civilians, including 17 children, were injured by Israeli fire.

The advocate-general’s decision sparked criticism by journalists and human rights groups in Gaza and around the world, who feared that the decision would allow more Israeli soldiers to harm Palestinian and other journalists in the field. Israeli forces have killed several journalists throughout the Gaza Strip and West Bank since the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada in September 2000.

In Gaza City, scores of journalists participated in a rally condemning the court’s decision, demanding an international probe into the killing of their colleague. Protesters chanted slogans such as “we are keeping up on your path Fadel, as you lay in rest.”

Reuters Gaza bureau chief Nidal al-Mughrabi demanded on behalf of Gaza journalists that those who killed Shana’a be brought to justice. Speaking in front a UN office, al-Mughrabi said that “the blood of Fadel Shana’a will be the fuel for other cameramen and journalists to continue to convey the message, to continue to report the truth to the outside world. We won’t be hindered or hampered by Israeli actions. We ask and seek the support of the United Nations, human rights groups and world news outlets so the killers of Shana’a can be brought to justice.”

He added angrily, “the killers of Shana’a must be punished. The blood of Shana’a and that of the eight children must not be wasted.”

Human rights groups in Gaza City will be sending an appeal to the UN’s human rights council, for what they believe was intentional killing of Shana’a. Khalil Abu Shammala, the director of the Gaza-based al-Dameer Association for Human Rights, explained, “the Israeli soldiers intentionally killed this journalist, as he was not in a place of danger. He was wearing a vest marked with the word ‘Press’ on it. He was filming about 750 meters away from the Israeli tank. But the Israeli tank shelled and killed him intentionally, in an attempt to blackout an Israeli invasion of the middle area [of the Gaza Strip] at that particular day.”

Rami Almeghari is contributor to The Electronic Intifada, IMEMC.org and Free Speech Radio News. Rami is also a former senior English translator at and editor-in-chief of the international press center of the Gaza-based Palestinian Information Service. He can be contacted at rami_almeghari A T hotmail D O T com.

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