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Israeli Warplanes Target Journalists

2006-08-27

August 27,2006

GAZA (Reuters) - The missile struck the "P" of the bright red "PRESS" sign on the roof of the armor-plated Reuters car as Gaza cameraman Fadel Shana hurried to film an Israeli raid.
Shana saw only a sheet of flame and the doors of the vehicle fly open.


Reuters Photo: Fadel Shana, a Reuters cameraman, is carried to hospital after an Israeli air strike hit...


He regained consciousness in hospital on Sunday, hours after the missile strike, with shrapnel wounds in his right hand and leg. He could not hear in one ear because of the explosion. His eyes were swollen and red.

"I am happy to be alive. I think I have been given another life," said Shana, 22, from his bed.
The army said it had not known that journalists were inside the car and that it had aroused suspicion at night in an area of combat, where soldiers were searching for tunnels and explosives being prepared by Palestinian militants for attacks.

"This car was not identified by the army as a press vehicle," said army spokeswoman Captain Noa Meir. "If journalists were hurt, we regret it."

Shana was knocked unconscious. Sabbah Hmaida, a local journalist who was with him, was badly wounded in his legs.

Shana recounted how he had rushed out to film after hearing of a suspected Israeli air strike in the Shijaiya neighborhood, a militant stronghold. He was searching for the site, which he estimated to be some 1,200 meters (yards) from the nearest Israeli soldiers, when the missile struck.
FIRE
"I suddenly saw fire and the doors of the jeep flew open. I did not know what happened," said Shana, a Palestinian freelance cameraman who has worked for Reuters for several years.
"I was acting as normal. As always, I abided by the journalistic rules. I drove normally, I did not get out of the car."

The car was labeled on all sides as a press vehicle.
Michael Lawrence, Reuters Managing Editor for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: "We are deeply concerned at this attack on a clearly marked press vehicle as journalists were doing their job to report the story from Gaza.

"We understand that the army says it had no intention of targeting the media, but this incident is totally unacceptable and we urge a careful examination of how this happened to ensure there is no repeat."

Army spokeswoman Meir said the fact that gunmen were later targeted and killed close to where the Reuters vehicle was hit indicated that it was close to a combat area.
The Foreign Press Association described the attack as "outrageous targeting" of the vehicle and rejected the army‘s "excuses." It also demanded a full and transparent investigation.
Shana said he was looking forward to getting back to work.
"I hope I will soon recover and return to my job, which I love the most," he said.


Israeli warplane fired missile at a group of people on east Gaza city, wounding the journalists Fadel Shana‘a of Reuters News Agency and Sabbah Hmeda of Media Group News Agency.

Medics also reported that Waleed al-Harazeen was hit with shrapnel and was killed, as an Israeli helicopter directly fired on them, east Gaza city. In the meantime, Tareq Hilles 20, died of wounds he sustained when an Israeli warplane targeted a press vehicle al-Mansoura St, east Gaza city, a woman and her child were also wounded due to an Israeli bombardment on the east of Gaza.
The missile struck the "P" of the bright red "PRESS" sign on the roof of the armor-plated Reuters car as Gaza cameraman Fadel Shana hurried to film an Israeli raid. Shana saw only a sheet of flame and the doors of the vehicle fly open.
He regained consciousness in hospital on Sunday, hours after the missile strike, with shrapnel wounds in his right hand and leg. He could not hear in one ear because of the explosion. His eyes were swollen and red."I am happy to be alive. I think I have been given another life," said Shana, 22, from his bed. The army said it had not known that journalists were inside the car and that it had aroused suspicion at night in an area of combat, where soldiers were searching for tunnels and explosives being prepared by Palestinian militants for attacks. "This car was not identified by the army as a press vehicle," said army spokeswoman Captain Noa Meir. "If journalists were hurt, we regret it." Shana was knocked unconscious. Sabbah Hmaida, a local journalist who was with him, was badly wounded in his legs. Shana recounted how he had rushed out to film after hearing of a suspected Israeli air strike in the Shijaiya neighborhood, a militant stronghold. He was searching for the site, which he estimated to be some 1,200 meters (yards) from the nearest Israeli soldiers, when the missile struck. "I suddenly saw fire and the doors of the jeep flew open. I did not know what happened," said Shana, a Palestinian freelance cameraman who has worked for Reuters for several years. "I was acting as normal. As always, I abided by the journalistic rules. I drove normally, I did not get out of the car." The car was labeled on all sides as a press vehicle.
Michael Lawrence, Reuters Managing Editor for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: "We are deeply concerned at this attack on a clearly marked press vehicle as journalists were doing their job to report the story from Gaza. "We understand that the army says it had no intention of targeting the media, but this incident is totally unacceptable and we urge a careful examination of how this happened to ensure there is no repeat." Army spokeswoman Meir said the fact that gunmen were later targeted and killed close to where the Reuters vehicle was hit indicated that it was close to a combat area.

The Foreign Press Association described the attack as "outrageous targeting" of the vehicle and rejected the army‘s "excuses." It also demanded a full and transparent investigation. Shana said he was looking forward to getting back to work. "I hope I will soon recover and return to my job, which I love the most," he said.


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