Reuters journalist was killed by Israeli tank, doctors say

The Reuters journalist killed yesterday in the Gaza Strip had been hit by a controversial weapon used by Israeli tanks, a medical examination showed today.

Physicians conducting the examination found that cameramen Fadel Shana had been hit by metal darts from an Israeli tank shell that explodes in the air caused the cameraman’s death, the agency reported.

X-rays showed that the 3cm darts, known as flechettes, were embedded in the 23-year-old Palestinian’s chest and legs. More flechettes were found in his flak jacket and vehicle, both of which had clear “Press” markings.

“The evidence from the medical examination underlines the importance of a swift, honest and impartial investigation by the Israel Defense Forces and by the government,” said Reuters editor-in-chief David Schlesinger.

“The markings on Fadel Shana’s vehicle showed clearly and unambiguously that he was a professional journalist doing his duty. We and the military must work together urgently to understand why this tragedy took place and how similar incidents can be avoided in the future,” Schlesinger added.

Asked about the information that an Israeli flechette shell had killed Shana, an Israeli military spokeswoman told Reuters: “The Israel Defence Forces do not, as a rule, comment on the weapons they use. But its weapons are legal under international law.

“Flechettes are legal under international law and a petition filed in the (Israeli) Supreme Court against their use was rejected,” she added.

Palestinian Journalists Union declared a one-day strike to protest Shana’s death. The Foreign Press Association, representing journalists in Israel and the Palestinian territories, expressed “profound sadness.”

“His death is a stark reminder of the risks our Palestinian colleagues take every day to cover the news in Gaza,” the FPA said.

Thousands of Palestinians, including journalists and rival politicians, marched through Gaza City today for Shana’s funeral. His body was wrapped in a bloody Palestinian flag, as fellow journalists marched alongside carrying his broken camera and bloodstained flak jacket.

The marchers waved Palestinian flags and carried small posters of Mr Shana posing with his camera. “Fadal Shana, goodbye, the victim of the truth,” the posters said.

Later, the body was taken to Shana’s home town of Khan Younis in southern Gaza where about 3,000 Palestinians attended the funeral.

Young Palestinian men wailed in grief, gunmen fired into the air, and flags from the rival Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements were seen.

Reuters released the final video taken by Shana in the seconds before his death. The footage shows a tank on a distant hilltop open fire. A tank shell is seen flying toward the camera followed by a large explosion before the screen went black.

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