Friday, July 6, 2007

"Journalists federation denounces Israel for shooting wounded Hamas cameraman"

The Associated Press
Published: July 6, 2007
On the Web at:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: A media watchdog group called for an investigation Friday into the shooting of a cameraman for Hamas TV who lay injured on a battlefield in Gaza.
The International Federation of Journalists, in a statement from Brussels, Belgium, denounced Israel for what it said was "a vicious and brutal example of deliberate targeting of a journalist."

Israeli army spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibowitch said it was not clear who shot Imad Ghanem, 21, a cameraman for the Hamas-allied Al Aqsa TV, though she did not deny it could have been Israeli troops. There were no plans to investigate, she said.

Ghanem's legs were amputated Thursday after he was brought to the hospital in critical condition, doctors said. He remained in intensive care Friday.

Leibowitch said the cameraman was a legitimate target because he was with the Hamas gunmen firing at Israeli forces, was separated from other journalists covering the clash, and could have been carrying a weapon.
The shooting was captured on film and broadcast on al-Jazeera satellite television, but the footage did not show who fired at Ghanem.

Eleven Palestinian militants were killed in a series of battles Thursday between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants in central Gaza. Israel poured infantry, tanks, bulldozers and aircraft into the 24-hour operation aimed at Palestinian positions firing rockets into Israel.

The footage showed a group of men fleeing from a rain of bullets in an open field. Ghanem lay on the ground, his camera beside him.

Bullets could be heard and seen landing near him. At first, Ghanem had his face turned up, resting on his arms. Then a bullet hit his lower body, and he appeared to go lifeless. Young men a few meters away screamed frantically. One took off his white T-shirt and started waving it at the direction of shooting.

From his hospital bed, Ghanem said he was first hit when he was filming the evacuation of militants wounded by Israeli tank fire.

"I walked ahead of them as they carried the injured on a metal stretcher. Then the shooting started. A bullet came in my leg and I fell to the ground. I couldn't move afterwards," he said.
Ghanem said a tank continued firing at him as he lay on the ground.

"I felt my body stuck to the floor, as if there is a rock on top of me. I continued to bleed. Every time someone came to my rescue, they shot at them," he said.

Ghanem said his camera was visible at all times.

"This man was carrying a camera, not a gun," said Aiden White, general secretary of the journalists' federation. "He was no threat to Israeli forces. Israel appears to believe it is possible to kill any journalist with impunity so long as they can smear them as propagandists."

Leibowitch said that while the circumstances of the shooting are unclear, "we treat members of a militant group as a militant."

"He was a legitimate target," she added. "You can't wait to see whether he pulls out a gun or not."

Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister deposed by President Mahmoud Abbas last month, after Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza, visited Ghanem in hospital Friday. Haniyeh hailed Ghanem as a hero.

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