On 29 March 2002, RSF protested the shooting of Carlos Handal, a Palestinian television cameraman working for the Egyptian station Nile TV, in the West Bank town of Ramallah. According to Handal’s colleague, the shot was fired by an Israeli sniper.
“Once again, we call on the Israeli authorities, to investigate and identify the person or persons responsible for the shooting,” said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard. “We cannot help but think that the Israeli army is opening fire on press vehicles to intimidate journalists covering events. At a time when the conflict becomes more violent every day, we advise journalists on the ground, especially in Ramallah, to be extremely careful about their movements.”
A summer 2001 RSF fact-finding mission in the area reported that forty-five journalists had been wounded by gunfire. RSF found that the Israeli army was responsible in the majority of the cases. Since the beginning of 2002, one journalist has been killed by shots fired from an Israeli tank and at least four others have been injured.
According to information gathered by RSF, Handal was seriously wounded on 29 March at dawn as he was driving towards the Lions Square in Ramallah. He was filming from the window of a mini-van clearly marked “TV”, driven by his colleague Raed el-Helu, when he was hit in the throat by a bullet that came through the windshield. Other bullets also hit the vehicle. Handal was taken to a private hospital, the Arab Medical Center, and placed in intensive care.
On 29 March, the Israeli army declared Ramallah a military zone. The last journalists able to enter the town had done so the previous evening.
On 13 March, Raffaele Ciriello, an Italian freelance photographer for the daily “Corriere della Sera”, was killed by six bullets fired from an Israeli tank near Ramallah’s central Al-Manara Square as he was covering an Israeli incursion into the city. He was accompanied by a journalist from the Italian television station Rai Uno, Amedeo Ricucci, who was in an alleyway off the main street, behind a group of armed Palestinians, when the tank crew who were 150 metres away opened fire. Ambulances could not reach the scene because of the fierce gunfire. Ciriello was taken to the Arab Care hospital, where he died before he could be operated on.