Israeli troops kill British cameraman in Gaza Strip

By Justin Huggler,Andrew Johnson
Saturday 14 December 2013 03:07
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A British cameraman was shot dead by Israeli troops last night after a group of journalists came under fire in the Gaza Strip city of Rafah.

Witnesses said that the Israeli soldiers, who were demolishing a home in the area, shot at the journalists even though they were waving white flags and torches, and shouting in Hebrew and English that they were journalists.

James Miller, a freelance journalist working for a company called Frostbite, was making a documentary about the lives of Palestinian children in Rafah, a refugee flashpoint next to the Egyptian border.

His translator, Abd al-Rahman Abdullah, said he, Mr Miller and another British journalist, Sa'ira Sha'a, had just left the home of a Palestinian man when they came under fire.

He said: "We saw two tanks and a bulldozer. There are two houses in the area. We were in one of the houses when the bulldozer began moving forward. We thought the situation was very dangerous so we wanted to get out of there.

"I was carrying a white flag and a white flashlight. We waved them and shouted 'we are journalists, we are journalists' in both Hebrew and English. They shot at us twice after that. We shouted again 'we are journalists', and they shot at us again.

"James was hit in the back or the neck. There was a lot of blood. We got his bulletproof vest off and yelled to the soldiers to help us. Another TV crew came to our aid. The soldiers were about 500 metres away. We shouted again and eventually an officer drove up in an armoured car. We told him James was seriously injured. They took him to a military hospital in Israel, but 20 minutes later we found he was dead."

Israeli tanks routinely open fire as they patrol the border to protect against possible ambushes by Palestinian gunmen.

The army also routinely demolishes houses in the area, claiming Palestinian militants use the buildings to fire on troops and to serve as a cover for weapons-smuggling tunnels leading to the Egyptian side of the border.

The army said that the tank was on a mission to find these tunnels when it came under fire, and that the house being demolished concealed such a smuggling tunnel.

A military source denied that any foreigners were targeted, and said troops fired only after an anti-tank missile was fired at their vehicles, causing no damage.

The tank returned fire, and troops later found a wounded man who was treated at the site and evacuated to an Israeli hospital, the army said, adding that it was investigating the shooting.

Mr Miller is the third foreigner to be killed or seriously wounded in Rafah in recent weeks. Tom Hurndall, 21, a peace activist from north London, is still in a coma after being shot in the head by Israeli troops three weeks ago.

Witnesses said that he was shot by an Israeli soldier stationed in a military watchtower as he stooped to pick up a Palestinian girl.

And an American, Rachel Corrie, 23, also a peace activist, was killed on 16 March when she was run over by a bulldozer which she was trying to prevent from demolishing a Palestinian house. In the West Bank another American peace activist, Brian Avery, 24, was shot in the face in the town of Jenin on 5 April.

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