Media watchdog calls for investigation into killing of journalism student

Mohammad Abu Halimeh

RSF has called on Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz to open an investigation into the death of journalism student Mohammad Abu Halimeh, who was killed on 22 March 2004 while covering clashes at the Balata refugee camp in Nablus.

The organisation also demanded that the conclusions of the Israeli Army investigation into the death of British documentary filmmaker James Miller be given to his family and made public as soon as possible. Miller was killed by Israeli gunfire on 3 May 2003 while working on a documentary in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses described his death as an “assassination,” and this was also the conclusion of the investigation sponsored by the filmmaker’s family.

“The Israeli Army previously killed Nazeh Darwazi, a cameraman for the American news agency APTN, in Nablus on 19 April 2003 [see alerts of 5 August, 29, 23 and 22 April 2003]. Shamefully, no investigation was launched and no action was taken against the perpetrators of the crime, even though eyewitnesses and footage of the incident demonstrated that there was a serious breach of regulations,” RSF said in its letter to the defence minister. “We are calling for an honest and serious investigation into the circumstances of the death of Mohammad Abu Halimeh, to bring an end to the impunity enjoyed by Israeli soldiers,” the organisation added.

Palestinian hospital and security sources said a bullet had apparently fatally wounded Halimeh in the stomach. Eyewitnesses told RSF that the journalism student was standing about 50 metres from the soldier who opened fire on him. He was reportedly standing in front of one of the Balata camp’s main entrances and had a camera around his neck. No exchange of gunfire was heard at the time. Agence France-Presse said Israeli soldiers had opened fire against stone-throwing Palestinians.

Halimeh, aged 22, had been working for several months as a volunteer for An-Najah University’s radio station in Nablus, where he was completing his journalism studies. He had been reporting live by telephone on the clashes at the Balata camp about 10 minutes before his death.

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