In his death, a truth was told
Joharah Baker

Slain Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana shown here covering the Israeli siege of Gaza. (Maan Images)
Slain Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana shown here covering the Israeli siege of Gaza. (Maan Images)
One week ago, in yet another Israeli offensive into the Gaza Strip which claimed 21 Palestinians in a day, Reuters photographer Fadel Shana lost his life. According to media reports, the 23-year old cameraman was filming invading Israeli tanks in Gaza City when he stepped out of his van, clearly marked with the word “press”, and was hit by the same tank’s fire. Later photos showed Shana’s blood-soaked flack jacket and his burning van as fellow Palestinians hovered over the young man’s lifeless body.

Given that Shana worked with an international media organization, it is no surprise that Reuters has demanded an investigation into the death. Reuters Editor-in-chief David Schlesinger fell short of explicitly chiding Israel but got his message across all the same. “This tragic incident shows the risks journalists take every day to report news,” he said. “All governments and organizations have the responsibility to take the utmost care to protect professionals trying to do their jobs.” Later, he continued, “The markings on Fadel Shana’s vehicle showed clearly and unambiguously that he was a professional journalist doing his duty.”

The fact is, this is hardly the first journalist to be killed by Israeli fire while covering events in the occupied Palestinian territories. At least 10 journalists have been killed since the start of the Intifada in September, 2000, including two Europeans. According to a December 2006 report by Reporters Without Borders, the Israeli army attacked or threatened 16 journalists in that year alone along with destroying three news media offices. Since the Intifada, journalists have been harassed, beaten, denied entry and killed or wounded by the Israeli army without any so-called investigation resulting in holding the army accountable for the death. When confronted with this fact by Reporters Without Borders, head of the foreign press section of the Israeli army Avital Leibovich replied, “The investigations have not resulted in charges because the evidence proved insufficient for prosecuting any particular officer.”

This is even true when the journalist is not Palestinian. In May 2003, British journalist James Miller was killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli gunfire. While a British court concluded that Miller was “deliberately” shot and killed by an Israeli soldier given that he was wearing a vest marked TV, the Israeli army brushed aside the case, saying the bullet retrieved from the journalist’s body was too damaged to irrefutably determine that it was shot from the gun of the Israeli soldier in question, who was freed of all charges.

This will more than likely be the outcome of any bogus investigation the Israeli army claims it will open in the case of Fadel Shana. Following his death, an Israeli army spokesperson churned out the empty rhetoric all too familiar in such cases. “We wish to express sorrow for the death of the Palestinian cameraman…It should be emphasized that the area in which the cameraman was hurt is an area in which ongoing fighting against armed, extreme and dangerous terrorist organizations occurs on a daily basis.” The spokesperson did not even bother to mention his name or the fact that Shana and his crew were in the center of a residential area in Gaza City when they were fired at.

To read the full article please visit MIFTAH.

1 Comment

  1. Terry Gabrich said,

    April 30, 2008 at 14:15

    This is really a shame, I really feel for this young man’s family. It is getting to the point that even a journalist isn’t allowed to tell the truth; or to do his work honestly. This reminds me of the Arab Reuters camera man that died in 2004. He was killed by American forces because he undercovered something that the American people have never been told; and that is that this camera man uncovered a mass grave for American soldiers. He was filming it the day he was killed. Is it possible that this reporter may have uncovered an atrocity, and he had to be silenced?

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