CNN correspondent wounded in Gaza
(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 31 October 2000 CPJ press release:
CNN Correspondent Wounded in Gaza
New York, October 31, 2000 --- A CNN reporter was wounded by gunfire while covering clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip today.
Ben Wedeman, CNN's Cairo bureau chief, was hit in the back by a live round at the Karni border crossing between Gaza and Israel. He is in stable condition at Gaza's Shifa hospital.
Speaking from his hospital bed, Wedeman told CPJ that he had gone to Karni crossing following reports of clashes there earlier in the day. He and his crew initially stationed themselves across the street from a group of Palestinian protesters.
"The protesters were on one side of the street and a handful of journalists on the other side," Wedeman said. He described the situation as tense but relatively stable at first, with sporadic gunfire. Journalists at the scene were wearing flak jackets and helmets.
As Wedeman and CNN cameraman Muhamad Assad walked down the road to an olive
grove, a burst of fire erupted. "Within minutes there was shooting. Intense shooting," he said. "I heard bullets over my head. We realized we were not in a good position." He added that what appeared to be a shell landed 15 to 20 meters (16-22 yards) away.
Wedeman was hit about five minutes later, during a lull in the firing. He was taking down his tripod and preparing to leave the area when he was struck in the back. The bullet passed through Wedeman's flak jacket. He could not determine the source of the shot, but did say that his back was to the Israeli position, between 400 meters (437 yards) and one kilometer (0.62 miles) away.
Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that journalists including the CNN crew were fired on by Israeli forces. An official at CNN told CPJ that there was "no reason to believe whoever fired upon Wedeman knew he was a journalist."
In a separate incident at Karni crossing a few hours earlier, AFP still photographer Fayez Nourredine and Reuters cameraman Shams Shana' were covering clashes between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli forces and were moving in the direction of the Israeli position when a bullet passed by Nourredine's head. Both men subsequently retreated.
On October 19, CPJ released Bloodied and Beleaguered, a multimedia report on threats against Palestinian journalists in the occupied territories. The report, which is currently posted on CPJ's Web site (www.cpj.org), describes how in recent years, a number of Palestinian cameramen, news photographers, and reporters working in the occupied territories have been seriously wounded by Israeli gunfire.
CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom around the world.