Monday, June 16, 2008

Tragic Death of Journalist Has Potential to Bring Humanity Back to Gaza


Fadel Shana, a photographic journalist for Reuters, was killed by an Israeli tank shell on April 16th, 2008. He died while reporting in the Gaza Strip, and Israeli forces have stated that they could not discern whether he was a journalist or not. In a recent Reuters article, Shana was said to be:

filming from a tripod in full view of two tanks for several
minutes when one of the tanks fired a shell that exploded above them, showering
them with metal darts known as flechettes. Both wore body armor that carried
"Press" markings, as did the car which they had been driving in the area for
about half an hour. They were about 1.5 km (a mile) from the tanks. Shana's
camera captured the fatal shell being fired.
Not only was Shana killed, but eight adolescents aged 12 to 20 were killed. It is a blaring attrocity, but doesn't seem to be the only case where Israel has fired first and asked questions later. In a botched airstirke, Israeli forces killed 6 people. It just seems to be a recurring theme in Palestinian territory: Israel forces respond to Palestinian activity with a quick military response, and sometimes that response is fatal.

What is peculiar about this incident is the fact that the tank fired into a group of people, where two men were journalists (and might I add, clearly journalists and not hostiles). The Israeli military forces have been known to discourage press coverage inside the Gaza Strip, so could this be their way of sending a warning to other journalists who want to cover the conflict? Or is this just a simple case of a trigger-finger-happy officer? Either way, it is an attrocity and should be investigated to the fullest extent. Will the investigation (if one actually takes place) actually give us an answer into the brutal death of Shana and eight others? Probably not, but I am hoping for the best result.

A spokesperson for Ehud Olmert, Mark Regev, commented on the deadly firing of the shell by stating:

"We have expressed regret and the army is conducting an investigation. It's a
tragedy," "There was no identification that he was a journalist. Had it been
clear he was a journalist, the shell would not have been fired."

This is a rather interesting comment. Apparently, by the statement he makes above, if a person is not recognized as a journalist in the Gaza Strip the military is free to fire on them. Does that make any sense to you? It sure doesn't strike me as very humane. Regev's statement leads me to believe that Israel does not regard the lives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as being worth very much. If they are willing to fire tank shells into a group of people that, according to the Reuter's article, weren't doing anything suspicious, I wonder what else they are 'willing' to do?

I am very sorry for the loss of the Shana family, and condolences to the families of those Palestinian adolescents killed that day as well. What I hope comes from these tragic deaths is a change in the way Israel treats people in the Gaza Strip, and hopefully they will actually stop and think before they act. When it comes to people's lives, I think that is at least due.


(I am cross-posting this blog article from The Largest Minority, where I am guest blogging.)