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British Call for Probe of Journalist's Death in Gaza

James Miller was shot by the Israeli army while at work in the Rafah refugee camp.

May 04, 2003|From Reuters

LONDON — Britain on Saturday demanded a thorough inquiry after the Israeli military fatally shot a British television cameraman in a Palestinian refugee camp.

"We are in touch with the Israeli authorities and we are pushing for a full and transparent investigation," a Foreign Office spokesman said regarding the death of freelance journalist James Miller.

Israeli forces demolishing a home suspected of concealing an arms-smuggling tunnel in the Gaza Strip shot Miller on Friday in the Rafah refugee camp, where he was making a documentary on the effect of violence on Palestinian children, witnesses said.

He died after being taken by Israeli forces for treatment.

Britain's Channel Four, which has broadcast Miller's work in the past, also called for an inquiry. "It goes without saying that the circumstances need to be carefully examined," a spokeswoman said.

Channel Four's acting head of news, Dorothy Byrne, said the death of the highly respected journalist was devastating.

"We are horrified to hear the tragic news that James has been killed. It's an unbearable loss for his family and the journalistic community is diminished by his death," Byrne said.

"He was one of the outstanding camera operators of his generation. He was brave but he was also extremely experienced and he would never take unnecessary risks."

At the time of his death Friday, Miller, who won acclaim for a documentary about life under Taliban rule in Afghanistan called "Beneath the Veil," was working on a documentary for American network HBO, colleagues said.

Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which on Saturday marked International Press Freedom Day, said it was appalled by Miller's death and joined calls on the Israeli government for an investigation.

Abdel-Rahman Abdullah, a Palestinian freelance journalist who saw the nighttime incident, said the troops opened fire unprovoked despite clear press markings on the television crew.

The Israeli army denied that troops targeted Miller, saying their operation was to uncover tunnels used by militants to smuggle in weapons from nearby Egypt for the 31-month-old armed uprising. The army said it was responding to hostile fire.

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