AP video journalist, translator killed in Gaza

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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


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