International Press Institute 10 July 2006
***Image2***The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, strongly condemns the shooting of two Palestinian photographers by Israeli forces in Gaza.
According to information provided to IPI, Hamdi Al Khur, a photographer with the Turkish-based Ihlas News Agency, was shot twice by Israeli snipers on 7 July while filming clashes between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya.
The first shot, aimed at the chest, did not cause serious injury as Al Khur was protected by the flak jacket he was wearing. The second shot hit his right arm. Doctors at the Kamal Edwin hospital, where Al Khur was treated after the shooting, were unable to remove all the shrapnel from his arm and called for an emergency evacuation on 8 July to a Jerusalem hospital. Al Khur continues to receive treatment there and it is not yet known when he will be able to return home.
Mohammad Az Zanoun, a photographer with the Palestinian online news agency Ma’an, was covering events in his home district of Zaitoun, east of Gaza City, when Israeli tanks entered the area on the morning of 8 July.
Zanoun was fired upon while photographing two Palestinian militants who had been killed in the incursion. The first bullets, fired from an Israeli tank, ricocheted off a brick wall next to where Zanoun was standing. He was hit in the face by shrapnel and debris, the force of which fractured his skull and caused serious damage to his right eye and ear.
When Zanoun attempted to continue photographing, he was shot in the leg and stomach by an Israeli sniper.
Zanoun was taken to hospital by car, as no ambulances were able to reach him. He underwent surgery at the Al Shifa’a hospital in Gaza City. He has since been evacuated to an Israeli hospital where he remains in serious condition.
Commenting on the attacks, IPI Director Johann P. Fritz said “The shooting of two photographers in two days is a deeply worrying development and raises serious concerns for the safety of journalists covering the escalating tension in the region.”
“Given that both Al Khur and Zanoun were wearing bright yellow vests, clearly identifying them as members of the press, it is impossible to believe they could have been mistaken for combatants.”
“According to the Geneva Conventions and customary international law, journalists, like all civilians, should be protected from the dangers arising from military operations. All parties to the current conflict must recognize that journalists and media workers cannot be treated as combatants and cannot be targeted in retaliation for carrying out their professional duties,” said Fritz.