Israel has announced an investigation into the killing of Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana by the IDF in the Gaza Strip following demands by the news agency and rights groups. Shana was killed while filming a central Gaza combat zone, and film from his camera showed an Israeli tank firing in his direction. An autopsy revealed that he had been hit by a kind of dart used in Israeli shells. Some suggest the tank crew targeted Shana knowing he was a journalist. The Israeli military rejected this. “The IDF wishes to emphasize that unlike terrorist organizations, not only does not it deliberately target uninvolved civilians, it also uses means to avoid such incidents,” it said in a statement. “Reports claiming the opposite are false and misleading.” (JTA, April 21)
Violence continues in the Gaza Strip, meanwhile. A Palestinian activist affiliated to Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades was killed April 21 when Israeli helicopters targeted a group of fighters in Beit Hanoun. Al-Qassam Brigades announced that a group of their fighters clashed with an undercover Israeli force, firing a homemade shell at them in the early hours of the morning.
Separately, al-Quds Brigades, military wing of Islamic Jihad, the said their fighters engaged a group of Israeli troops who penetrated into al-Qarara in the Gaza Strip the previous evening. Also that evening, a Palestinian man was killed in an Israeli air-strike on a car in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Several bystanders were also injured in the attack.
(Ma’an News Agency, April 21)
After meeting with Hamas leaders, former US President Jimmy Carter said at an April 21 press conference at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem that Hamas had agreed to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders if it is accepted by Palestinians in a referendum. But he added that Hamas leaders say national reconciliation is necessary between Hamas and Fatah before the referendum is carried out.
Carter defended his controversial meeting with head of Hamas politburo, Khaled Masha’l, in Damascus saying, “We’re not here as negotiators or mediators. We have no authority. We are here to learn. We believe the problem is not that I met with Hamas in Syria, the problem is that the US refuses to meet with those involved.” (Ma’an News Agency, April 21)
The Islamic Jihad movement reiterated its rejection of any referendum related to “inalienable Palestinian principles.” The movement’s senior leader Sheikh Khalid Al-Batsh said that such declarations reflect “Arab weakness” and that “the international community is siding with Israel.” (Ma’an News Agency, April 21)