Autopsy indicates cameraman was killed by Israelis

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The Independent Online

The findings of an Israeli autopsy released yesterday indicate that an award-winning British television cameraman killed last week was shot dead by Israeli soldiers – and not by Palestinian gunmen, as the Israeli army has suggested.

The findings of an Israeli autopsy released yesterday indicate that an award-winning British television cameraman killed last week was shot dead by Israeli soldiers – and not by Palestinian gunmen, as the Israeli army has suggested.

The Independent has seen television footage of the incident, which shows that claims by the Israeli army that there was a "massive" exchange of fire at the time are untrue.

James Miller was killed last Friday while filming a documentary in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. He was best known for filming the award-winning documentary on life in Afghanistan under the Taliban, Beneath the Veil. The Foreign Office, international journalists' organisations and Channel Four television have called for an investigation into his death.

An autopsy at Israel's National Forensics Institute found that the only bullet to hit him entered his body from the front, and not from the back as the Israeli army claimed. That indicated that the bullet came from the direction of the Israeli soldiers Mr Miller was walking towards when he was killed.

The Israeli army has not disputed witness accounts that Mr Miller was approaching Israeli soldiers when he was shot – on the contrary, it earlier claimed the bullet entered Mr Miller's body from behind, and that Mr Miller "may" have been shot by Palestinians.

Professor Yehuda Hiss, director of the National Forensics Institute, said: "The entry wound is in the front of the neck and the exit wound is in the back of the right shoulder. He was shot from front to back and left to right." The bullet was recovered and was being tested by Israeli police, he said.

The findings were released as Israel faces serious criticism over its handling of two earlier incidents in which British nationals were shot by Israeli soldiers. UN colleagues of Iain Hook, a UN worker shot dead by an Israeli soldier in Jenin last year, have accused the Israeli authorities of attempting to cover up his killing. And the parents of Tom Hurndall, a British peace activist left in a coma after being shot by an Israeli sniper in Rafah, have said they are unhappy with the investigation.

Mr Miller was in Rafah filming a documentary on the life of Palestinian children under the intifada, with Saira Shah, who he worked with on Beneath the Veil. On the night he died, he was filming Israeli soldiers demolishing a Palestinian house.

The Israeli army claimed there had been a heavy exchange of fire with Palestinian militants when Mr Miller was shot, and that its soldiers had come under fire from rocket-propelled grenades. Colonel Avi Levi, the deputy commander of the battalion involved, claimed: "We are speaking of a situation in which soldiers are under fire, under massive shooting from a number of sources, also from the area where the British TV crew was."

But footage filmed by an Associated Press cameraman, Taher Zeyara, shows that there was no firing when Mr Miller left the house he was filming from, with Ms Shah and a Palestinian translator, Abd al-Rahman Abdullah. There is total silence as the three walk towards the Israeli soldiers.

The journalists are clearly visible, holding up a large white flag and shining a torch at it. Fluorescent "TV" markings can also be seen on Ms Shah's bullet-proof vest. Without warning, there is a single loud shot. There is a second single shot, and then Mr Miller is heard yelling in pain. There is no sign of any exchange of fire.

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