Military will not take action over civilian deaths

LONDON News agency Reuters has criticized a decision by the Israeli army that it will not be taking any legal action against a tank crew that killed a Reuters cameraman and eight young civilians in the Gaza Strip in April.

Israel’s senior military advocate-general sent a letter to Reuters’ London office Aug. 12 informing the agency that, while the incident was a tragedy, their evidence “did not suggest misconduct or criminal misbehavior.”

The 24-year-old cameraman, Fadel Shana, was killed along with eight young Palestinians, all unarmed and under the age of 20, when an Israeli Defense Forces tank fired a shell at them packed with metal darts on April 16.

The Israeli army’s report cited a separate grenade attack on a tank, which killed three Israeli soldiers, earlier in the day as well as the fact that Shana and his soundman were wearing body armor as contributing to the confusion surrounding their identity. “The tank crew was unable to determine the nature of the object mounted on the tripod and positively identified it as an anti-tank missile, a mortar or a television camera.”

That decision has drawn the ire of Reuters execs.

“Reuters is deeply disturbed by a conclusion that would severely curtail the freedom of the media to cover the conflict by effectively giving soldiers a free hand to kill without being sure that they were not firing on journalists,” read a statement from the news agency.

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