B'Tselem demands IDF halt use of shell

Claims Reuters cameraman killed by illegal tank shell; journalist films own death, video released.

B'Tselem released a report on Thursday claiming that Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana'a was killed by a Flechette shell, based upon the results of the slain photojournalist's autopsy. B'Tselem is demanding that the IDF's Judge Advocate General immediately prohibit the use of the Flechette-based weapons system. The Flechette shell is an anti-personnel weapon generally fired from a tank, which explodes in the air and releases thousands of small metal darts, which disperse in a conical arch of approximately 300 by 90 meters. B'Tselem claimed that circumstances in the Gaza Strip render the use of Flechette shells illegal due to the wide dispersal area of the darts which, when used in populated areas, constitutes a type of indiscriminate firing, and thereby endangers innocent civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law. Reuters footage released on Wednesday showed the final moments of agency cameraman Fadel Shana as he filmed an IDF tank firing, moments before apparently being hit by the shell. Subsequent footage showed the Reuters jeep on fire, and Shana's body lying next to it. Shana's jeep was marked "press" and witnesses said the cameraman was wearing an identifying flak jacket. Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger called for an investigation of Wednesday's incident. Warning: Graphic images. Two bystanders also died in the incident. The Palestinian Journalists Union declared a one-day strike for Thursday to protest the killing of Shana. The Foreign Press Association, representing journalists in Israel and the Palestinian territories, expressed "profound sadness" and added, "His death is a stark reminder of the risks our Palestinian colleagues take every day to cover the news in Gaza." The IDF did not confirm its forces hit the journalist.