Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tragic Death of Journalist By Israeli Tank Shell "Was Sound" Decision, Says Israeli Official

A while back in June, I posted an article regarding the tragic death of a Reuter's Journalist in the Gaza Strip by IDF forces. I had also hoped that, even though Fadel Shana's death was an atrocity, it would cause Israeli soldiers to question their "shoot first, inquire later" attitudes. It seems that my positive thinking regarding this story was a little too optimistic.

In a recent article by Reuter's, the tank crew that killed the Journalist and eight other Palestinians from age 12 to 20, were cleared of any wrongdoing. The lawyer for the Israeli military dismissed the fact that Shana had been in the area all day using his camera, he was wearing a vest that said 'PRESS' on it, his van had similar markings, and he had been filming the tank crew for a few minutes at least. Israeli military officials stated that Shana's camera and tripod could not be discerned and were thought to be a mortar, anti-tank missile, or camera. They also could not identify that he was 'Press,' and said that the vest he was wearing were commonly used by Palestinian rebels.

I think that the tank crew's actions were deplorable and inexcusable. Using this tank crew's response as an example (since they did nothing wrong according to the Israeli military) the use of any camera equipment in Gaza, to me at least, seems to be lethal. If IDF forces cannot correctly identify a camera from a missile launcher, what is to say this will not happen again? I think Journalist's in conflict zones should be able to have more protection than what Shana was shown.

Joel Campagna, of the Committee to Protect Journalists, stated:
It's difficult to believe ... that the IDF took the necessary precautions to avoid causing harm to civilians -- as it is obliged to do under international law
I tend to agree with Campagna. If IDF forces were really concerned about the lives of people in Gaza, or Journalists, I think they would have shown a little more precaution. There is no place for trigger-happy soldiers in conflicts which concern combatants and civilians. There is no justification for Shana's death or the death of the eight other Palestinians.