Friday, April 18, 2008


[AP photo showing firefighters hosing down the vehicle of Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana. The Age did not use this photograph in today's report on Shana's death.]

The death of any journalist reporting from a war zone is always regrettable but most know the risks when they take the job. Palestinian cameraman Fadel Shana certainly knew the ropes when he entered a battle zone in Gaza. He even told a colleague who asked for a lift to the scene of an Israeli air strike near Gaza's border with Israel that "it's too dangerous" - Israel denies killing TV cameraman.

According to another report from the Palestinian Ma'an Newsagency however, the cameraman who died yesterday in unusual circumstances, wasn't in a dangerous war zone at all. Says eyewitness, Yassir Qadih, a journalist:

"There was nobody around us except a group of children who we were going to film. There were no resistance groups in the area."

But wait!

According to this Associated Press report, "Shana died along with two bystanders after his car was hit while filming Israeli tank movements." If that's the truth and Shana knew the area was dangerous as reported in O'Loughlin's Melbourne Age article, then why on earth was he filming a group of children gambolling about in open fields?

None of this seems to make sense. The O'Loughlin article says that Shana's media vehicle was "clearly marked" and was attacked by a tank "visible on a hill a kilometre away". He says Shana "had parked in a lane-way off Gaza's main north-south highway and was standing beside his jeep to film the tank. The markings on his vehicle (see photograph above) might be visible from the air but would a jeep commander on a ridge a kilometre away notice anything other than someone pointing an object - perhaps an anti-tank missile - in his direction?

O'Loughlin might not remember this because he could have been away on an assignment elsewhere but last July, Islamic Jihad operatives used a jeep that was also "clearly marked" with "TV" and "Press" to assault an IDF position at the Kissufim crossing between Gaza and Israel. Following the gunbattle, journalists "charged that the incident, the first of its kind, would make their jobs more dangerous than ever" - Press slams gunmen for using TV jeep.

If you think there's any sense in this story, then try this report on the cameraman's death in The Australian which says that "an AFP photographer driving behind the Reuters jeep, which had TV and press stickers plastered across its doors and roof, said the vehicle burst into flames after a missile slammed into it." But the O'Loughlin narrative says Shana was standing beside his parked vehicle!

What makes even less sense is why O'Loughlin, whose article is credited as having been written "With REUTERS" fails to mention that Shana was a Reuters cameraman. Or that this particular cameraman was exposed as a liar in the Jerusalem Post almost two years ago.

Now comes the final nail in the coffin of this outrageous narrative:

"A medical examination showed metal darts from an Israeli tank shell that explodes in the air caused Shana's death, doctors said.

"X-rays from Gaza's Shifa Hospital showed several of the controversial munitions, known as flechettes, embedded in his chest and legs. Several of the three-centimetre-long darts were also found in his flak jacket and his vehicle."

Metal darts from an Israeli tank shell?

Based on what evidence - the doctors' say so?

Are we really supposed to believe in the proficiency of the examiners at Gaza's Shifa Hospital who not only move at a speed faster than television's fictional Quincy ME in coming out with their findings but can also determine from laboratories in their hospital that these metal darts were from flechettes fired from an Israeli tank a kilometre away from their target (flechettes are not incendiary but note what's happening to Shana's vehicle in the AP photograph above)?

Of course, we're not talking about just any hospital. Shifa is regularly in the news and, er ... let's just say that this facility is no stranger to controversy when it comes to its general reporting and recording methods or the way it handles its patients - Gaza beach blast victim wakes. Shifa has also been the scene of several gun battles between Hamas and Fatah - OCHA Report. This is not just a hospital, it's a place that gives a whole new meaning to the words "operating theatre" - one that makes it an integral part of a shonky PR exercise being waged against Israel!

The story of Shana's death is one that exudes a certain atmosphere of unreality - one in which the Israelis (who correctly are not prepared to admit culpability until they have fully investigated the circumstances) are being set up as the guilty party in the deliberate killing of an innocent Bambi - a veritable saint who was out filming some kids playing in a field when struck by a tank shell.

But Shana was no saint and while he died tragically, the aftermath of his death has clearly been staged through the clever use of smoke and mirrors in such a way as to damn the Israelis and their counter terrorist activities in the eyes of world opinion.

"Bambi the Cameraman" is a nice title for the next Pallywood epic but I'm not buying this story. Like much of the news reportage that comes out of this region, it stinks to high heaven.


Portofino said...

You are right, Wilbur.

This was the lowest moment in Ed's journalistic career and you've captured it better than Bambi's camera ever could.

Anonymous said...

Nice work mate!

(From Arizona)

Anonymous said...

When civilians die while their own people shoot from civilian areas, the combatants who operate in these civilian areas are solely morally culpable.

Anonymous said...

When you infer that news stories coming out of this region lack credibility, is the "region" you're referring to Mister Ed's tuches?

Gulliver_on_tour said...

A week ago two Israeli workers were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in an unprovoked attack on a fuel terminal in Nahal Oz. There was no question then about the perpretrators or their intentions. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank celebrated.

So where was O'Loughlin's in depth report with pictures of the scene of the murder?

Or does he only specialize in doing sympathetic puff pieces about the deaths of Palestinians?

Wilbur Post said...

Dear GOT (???)

(a) he was probably busy on assignment elsewhere at the time, and

(b) mostly, yes.

Anonymous said...

Go find me a hill and point a film camera at me from a kilometre away and what's going to be visible?

A metal object pointed in my direction.


Another fcuking idiot bites the dust.