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Gaza City ceremony honours journalists killed reporting in Gaza

28 July 2010 | ISM Gaza

Journalists killed by Israel while reporting in Gaza were remembered at an award ceremony in Gaza City yesterday; family members and co-workers received a plaque in their honour.

Abu Walid Mahmoud Al-Zaq of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF), the group organising the event – on their 43rd anniversary – presented awards in memory of ten journalists.

One of those was James Miller, a British documentary-maker killed in Gaza in May 2003, whose award was accepted on his behalf by current members of the International Solidarity Movement working in Gaza.

One Palestinian journalist honoured was Fadel Shana’a, killed along with eight other noncombatants, by a flechette shell fired by an Israeli tank, clearly seen by Fadel’s own footage of the shell being fired before he was killed a few seconds later.

After the first missile that killed Fadel, the clearly marked Reuters vehicle in which he had been travelling took a direct hit from a second tank, killing two children and another civilian close by, and injuring twelve others, including five children. Wafa Abu Mezyed, 25, a Reuters sound technician, was also injured.

On 13 August 2009 the IDF closed an investigation into Fadel Shana’a’s death, without taking disciplinary action against the tank crew that his own video clearly showed killing him.

Collecting the award on his behalf was cameraman and friend Sameer Al-Boje of Palmedia.. He expressed happiness that there were organisations showing appreciation for – and raising the profile of – the invaluable and often perilous work of journalists and cameramen in the occupied territories.

cameraman Sameer Al-Boje of Palmedia receiving the award in honour of Fadel Shana'a

cameraman Sameer Al-Boje of Palmedia receiving the award in honour of Fadel Shana'a

When asked of the dangers he continues to face in Gaza he told us, “They don’t outweigh the importance of getting the real story out as to what is happening to the Palestinians.”

“When I entered this job, I knew that Israel doesn’t care about Palestinian journalists and that they would be happy to shoot them – there is no protection for the media here in Gaza because Israel does not want us to get this kind of news out.”

Sameer called on international organisations to do more to ensure safety for journalists in the course of their important work: “I feel its dangerous every time I go out there. We are not provided with any freedom of the press and media rights taken for granted in other countries. This is what we need if we are to continue sending out the real news of what’s happening in Gaza.”

Like the Palestinian Red Crescent, Palestinian journalists continue to be the first at the scene in the most dangerous times in Gaza, and so much of the footage the world sees is recorded by people well aware that they could become the next news story or grim statistic following the next Israeli attack in the continuous barrage.

A poster of Ihab Al-Wehadi killed 9th January during Operation Cast Lead

A poster of Ihab Al-Wehadi killed 9th January during Operation Cast Lea

The full list of the journalists deservedly honoured at the ceremony

  • Basel Faraj, a cameraman, died January 6th 2009 from injuries sustained in an air strike on Gaza Decmeber 27th 2008. His killing was condemned by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
  • Ala’a Mortaja, died during Operation Cast Lead.
  • Hamza Shaheen, photojournalist for the Shihab News Agency, died December 2008.
  • Fadel Shana’a, a Reuters camerman, killed April 16th 2008.
  • Hassa Shaqora, killed March 2008.
  • James Miller, killed in Rafah on 2nd May 2003. Watch a video about his death here.
  • Ihab Al-Wehadi, (pictured right) cameraman for Palestine TV, killed with his wife and mother on 9th January 2009 during Operation Cast Lead when Israel shelled their apartment in the Tal Al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City.
  • Mahamed Herzallah, details unknown.
  • Bilal Deeba, details unknown.
  • Omar As-Silawa, details unknown.