To Carry a Camera in Gaza
By Diana Mukkaled
August 30, 2008

Anybody carrying a camera in the Gaza Strip is a potential target.

This is the simple conclusion that can be reached following the Israeli military prosecutor’s report that was issued a few days ago. The report cleared Israeli soldiers who shot dead Palestinian cameraman Fadel Shana who died on April 16, 2008 along with eight unarmed youths under 16 years of age.

Why did Israeli soldiers venture upon launching two missiles towards a group of unarmed youths and the Reuters cameraman who was holding his camera and whose clothes and equipment were clearly marked ‘press’?

This may seem like a silly question to many or may bring about answers that further complicate the conflict with Israel and the continuous targeting of Palestinians. But it is a question that should be contemplated. This is what the international news agency Reuters, for which Fadel Shana worked, has embarked upon.

Reuters rejected the Israeli military’s report and launched a large campaign to gain the support of scores of media figures, journalists, civil associations and others who want to see Shana’s killers brought to justice because the conclusion that was reached by the Israeli military prosecutor is a green light for more killings.

There were numerous findings in the case that agree that Shana was clearly identified as a journalist rendering the excuses given by the Israeli soldiers for the shooting weak.

It is important to pick up on the way that Reuters has adopted a just cause as there is an opportunity here that cannot be missed in the context of confronting Israel. This is more important than kidnapping an Israeli soldier, launching rockets, bombing a bus or attacking cars with a bulldozer.

A global media institution stands by us in an attempt to condemn Israeli practices.

Some of these attempts have been victorious in the past for example the BBC launched a lawsuit after Israeli soldiers killed the driver of BBC correspondent Jeremy Bowen as he covered the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.

Engaging in civil confrontation through international courts and the attempt to increase international public support for a just cause such as the killing of Shana and the children of Gaza are reminiscent of the first Palestinian Intifada during which international humanitarian institutions and western media stood by the Palestinians. Regrettably however, this declined in the wake of the second Intifada and continues to fade away.

There is no doubt that the Hamas movement has failed to set an example in the press as well as in government that could approach or fight the Israeli model. Moreover, there were many victims of the intra-Palestinian conflict between Hamas and Fatah, most notably the freedom of media and press and this has become common knowledge. This, in itself, weakens the call for civil confrontation against Israel. Nevertheless, to present ourselves to our societies and the world as victims seeking justice is better than presenting ourselves as criminals whose sole profession is killing.