RSF outraged by death of Palestinian photographer in Jenin

Palestinian freelance photographer Imad Abu Zahra died in Jenin on 12 July 2002 after being seriously wounded by Israeli army gunfire on 11 July.

“It is intolerable that two journalists have been killed in the past five months by the Israeli army, even more so since Israeli soldiers refused to allow an ambulance to reach the latest victim,” said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard.

More than 40 journalists have been wounded in shootings by the Israeli army since September 2000. Since Ariel Sharon became prime minister in February 2001, 17 journalists have been wounded, 70 have come under fire and 15 foreign or Palestinian media offices have been occupied by the Israeli army. Since the start of Operation Rampart on 29 March 2002, at least 30 journalists have been arrested and six of them - all Palestinians - are still being detained.

“The Israeli army is acting with complete impunity. This is also intolerable. How many more must die before the army stops attacking the media? Reporters Without Borders has decided to add Sharon to its worldwide list of predators of press freedom,” Ménard said.

Abu Zahra, who was 35, died in hospital. The previous day, at around noon (local time), after a curfew had been lifted, the photographer was in the centre of Jenin with Said el-Dahla, a photographer from the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, when Israeli tanks fired on them without warning, wounding both in the legs.

Abu Zahra was more seriously hurt and lost a great deal of blood over more than an hour because Israeli troops refused to allow an ambulance to reach him. He was eventually taken to hospital in a car where he was placed in intensive care. Witnesses said there had been no clash underway when the pair were hit. An Israeli army spokesman said, “the mob threw stones and firebombs at the vehicles.”

Raffaele Ciriello, special correspondent for the Italian daily “Corriere della Sera”, was killed in Ramallah on 13 March, also after being wounded by Israeli gunfire. He was hit by six bullets fired from a tank near al-Manara Square, in the city centre.