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Cameraman shot dead by Israelis

April 20, 2003


NABLUS, April 19: More than one thousand people turned out for the funeral of a Palestinian cameraman killed by Israeli gunfire on Saturday as he filmed clashes in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Nazeh Darwazi, 42, a journalist for both Palestinian television and the US Associated Press Television Network, was shot dead in the central Casbah district according to Bilal Bana, a Palestinian reporter with him at the time.

“A soldier killed Nazeh in cold blood as he was standing only 20 metres from him,” Bana said, adding that Darwazi was with four other journalists and was wearing a bullet-proof vest marked “Press”.

His death came as a Palestinian non-governmental organization accused Israel and the Palestinian Authority of serious human rights violations, saying more than 1,000 people were killed in the occupied territories in 2002.

Wrapped in a Palestinian flag, Darwazi’s body was carried from the city’s Rafidyeh hospital by representatives of the Palestinian press, who chanted slogans against Israel, and was then buried in a cemetery.

Darwazi’s death came amid clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian stone-throwers in which 18 Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets and live fire.

The incident happened after a small Israeli army unit captured three Palestinians in the Casbah area, according to an Israeli military source.

The soldiers came in a jeep with other armored vehicles and arrested a young woman, her brother and another man. The woman was preparing a suicide attack inside Israel for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the source said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman later confirmed the woman was a suicide bomber.

He said a preliminary investigation indicated the incident happened when “an armoured vehicle was blocked close to the Casbah, after the army had gone to the site to arrest some wanted terrorists, when a crowd of Palestinians attacked them with automatic weapons, explosive devices, stones and fire-bombs”.

“The soldiers initially fired warning salvos and then opened fire to disperse the attackers,” she said.

The spokesman said that members of the press who exposed themselves in danger zones always risked their lives. However, she expressed “the regrets of the army for the death of an innocent bystander” and said an investigation would be carried out.

In a statement issued after the cameraman’s death, the Palestinian Authority said Israel has “committed a war crime” by “opening fire on journalists and other civilians”.—AFP