Attempting to murder the truth

Nazih Darwazeh

The wheelchairs took their places at the front line, carrying previous victims of the Israeli brutality in the long occupation years. Angry protestors strolled along trying to control their rage by shouting loudly and screaming revenge at the continuing Israeli aggression against Palestinians. The victim this time is Nazih Darwazeh. A cameraman working with Palestine TV and freelancing for Associated Press.

Nazih’s family was among the mourning protestors. The loss is too big and the shock was massive.

Nazih Darwazeh was shot in the face by an Israeli soldier less than ten meters away, directly in the face killing him instantly and sending his brains all over the place in front of his colleagues as he was covering the renewed invasion of Nablus earlier in the morning.

Nazih was a husband and a father of five children. The youngest is 4 months old.

The bullet that hit Nazih went directly into his head. Eight centimeters in depth, hospital sources said, the kind that turns into many tiny pieces as soon as it enters the human body. Nazih got it in the face.

Less than two weeks ago, Nazih was photographed whilst protesting the killing of Tareq Ayyoub from Al Jazeera satellite news channel in Baghdad. Tareq too was killed while he was doing his job, only Tareq was liquidated by the Americans, for the same reason.

With the use of the Internet and satellite television, news travels fast and stopping it is considered hard. Killing reporters is a cheaper way to assassinate the truth by discouraging reporting.

Since the beginning of the Intifada, Israel has kept a habit of targeting reporters specially those working for the International media. As for the local media, many radio and TV stations were attacked by the Israeli army.

The motto is “kill as many in the dark by shutting off the media”. The few bits that reach the world are of no significance. The world is watching, yet has done so little.

“We do not make events” Abed Qusini said “We only cover them”. Abed is a photographer with Reuters. He was less than a foot away from Nazih when the exploding bullet struck Nazih’s face. Nazih’s blood was splattered all over Abed’s camera.

Hasan Titi was also there. He is a cameraman for Reuters. “I told Nazih to be careful and not risk his life. When the bullet struck, I shouted ‘Nazeeeeeh, Nazeeeeeh’ but Nazih was already dead”. “An Israeli soldier came from behind the tank, aimed directly at Nazih and opened fire, Nazih fell on me and Abed. It was the worst thing I ever witnessed in my life” Hasan explained.

Earlier in the morning, 2:00AM, the Israeli army stormed Nablus using two tanks and several jeeps and armored vehicles. A long siege of a residential building ended with arresting three young Palestinians — a female student, her cousin and fiance.

Apparently one the Israeli tanks broke down. The Israeli army waited until the morning hours to tow it away, when the streets were full and the provocation by an incursion is immense.

Ala Badarneh, reporting for Radio Tariq Al Mahabbeh, our station, said “We were reporting the clashes at the time. Youngsters were throwing stones at the well armored tank. We were only doing our job of covering these events”.

Ala was few feet away from Nazih. At the time of the shooting, Ala was commenting on the events live from the scene. He was telling is and the listeners about the school girls who found themselves trapped by army fire, about an old man who was hurt with shrapnel in the leg, about the screaming civilians in the firing lines of army fire. Suddenly, Ala said “Hold on…. Hold on, I can see a reporter down, I will be back in another message”. The line went dead.

I called Ala on a walkie talkie. He said he couldn’t which of his colleagues was hit because the ambulance took him away immediately. The other two reporters took cover inside a house.

Heavy minutes passed before Ala was back to me. He could hardly speak but managed to say “Nazih is dead, Nazih martyred”.

He was familiar to Israeli soldiers. Nasser Ishtayyeh said noted his vest was bright yellow with reflectors and large P R E S S letters on the front and back, concluding, “there is no doubt that Nazih was killed in cold blood”. Ishtayyeh lost his infant little daughter last year when the army delayed the ambulance carrying her to hospital, a few days after she was born.

Nazih was famous for his courage. He was always in the frontline of any event. His footage were mostly the first to be aired. He was familiar to the Israeli army. He was always there. Nazih is dead because the army was fed up with his insistence.

In an interview with a local TV, local reporters accused the international media communities of being so ineffective. Many reporters were murdered around the world, nine in Palestine alone. Statements have been issued, nothing more than statements.

My story may add just a number in the long list of stories written about much human right violations. This is not a story. This is reality.

At least one Palestinian is killed every single day as a result of the Israeli occupation. This time, a journalist.

This journalist was a husband, a father, a friend, and a colleague. Above all, he was a human being. A civilised human being.

Amer Abdelhadi is General Manager of Radio Tariq Al Mahabbeh TMFM 97.7