GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip --- Six people, including an Associated Press video journalist, were killed Wednesday when leftover ordnance believed to have been dropped in an Israeli airstrike blew up in the Gaza Strip.
Simone Camilli and his Palestinian translator, Ali Shehda Abu Afash, were covering the aftermath of the war between Israel and Islamic militants in Gaza when they were killed. The blast occurred as Gaza police engineers were trying to defuse unexploded ordnance fired by Israel.
Four police engineers also were killed, police said. Three people, including AP photographer Hatem Moussa, were badly injured.
Mr. Moussa told a colleague that they were filming the scene when an initial explosion went off. He said he was hit by shrapnel and began to run when there was a second blast, which knocked him out. He woke up in a hospital and later underwent surgery before he was transferred to a hospital in Israel for more advanced care.
Police officials in Gaza said the blast occurred at a special site set up in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, where authorities have collected unexploded ordnance to be defused. The cause of the blast was not immediately known.
An official said an Israeli tank shell caused the first explosion, triggering the more powerful secondary blast that included several bombs, including unexploded missiles dropped in Israeli airstrikes. The Israeli military carried out nearly 5,000 airstrikes in a month of fighting.
Iyad al-Bouzm, a spokesman for Gaza’s Interior Ministry, estimated that Israel dropped about 10,000 tons of explosives on Gaza, including shells fired by tanks, artillery batteries and gunboats, as well as more powerful missiles delivered in airstrikes. He said there was no estimate on how many unexploded shells remained.
Mr. Camilli became the first foreign journalist killed in the Gaza conflict, which took more than 1,900 Palestinian lives and 67 on the Israeli side. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a U.S.-based press-freedom advocacy group, four Palestinian journalists or media workers were previously killed in the fighting.
The 35-year-old Italian national had worked for the AP since 2005, when he was hired in Rome. He relocated to Jerusalem in 2006, and often covered assignments in Gaza. He had been based recently in Beirut, returning to Gaza after the war began last month. He is survived by a longtime partner and a 3-year-old daughter in Beirut, as well as his parents and two sisters.
Mr. Abu Afash, 36, a Gaza resident, is survived by his wife and two daughters, ages 7 and 2½. He often worked with the international media as a translator and news assistant, and worked as a part-time administrative assistant for Agence France-Presse.israel - Middle East - Lebanon - Jerusalem - Palestinian territories - Pope Benedict XVI - Israeli armed forces - Israel government - Pope Francis - Gaza Strip - Beirut - Federico Lombardi - Hamas - Anja Niedringhaus - Kathy Gannon - Pope John Paul II - Gaza - Simone Camilli - Gary Pruitt