Gaza visitors must now declare: 'Kill me, I won't mind!'

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri May 9 09:10:33 MDT 2003


GUARDIAN
May 9, 2003

The Israeli military yesterday began obliging foreigners
entering the Gaza Strip to sign waivers absolving the army
from responsibility if it shoots them. Visitors must also
declare that they are not peace activists.

The move came hours before an autopsy on James Miller -- the
British cameraman killed in a Gaza refugee camp -- confirmed
that he was almost certainly killed by an Israeli soldier,
despite the army's assertions to the contrary.

Yesterday, the British government demanded an Israeli
military police criminal investigation into Miller's death
and the shooting of another Briton by the army in Gaza, Tom
Hurndall, a peace activist.

Hurndall is in a coma with severe brain damage after being
shot in the head by an Israeli soldier last month as he
attempted to protect a small child from gunfire. The Foreign
Office minister, Mike O'Brien, called in the Israeli
ambassador to London to press the demand, which diplomatic
sources portrayed as a ratcheting up of pressure on the
Israeli government.

"On the basis of the evidence we've seen, we feel this case
is so serious that we are asking for a military police
investigation," said a Foreign Office representative.

The waiver to enter Gaza requires foreigners, including
United Nations relief workers, to acknowledge that they are
entering a danger zone and will not hold the Israeli army
responsible if they are shot or injured. The army document
also warns visitors they are forbidden from approaching the
security fences next to Jewish settlements or entering
"military zones" in Rafah refugee camp close to the Egyptian
border where Miller was shot dead on Saturday.

He was the third foreigner killed or severely wounded in the
area in recent weeks, besides numerous Palestinian civilians
hit by Israeli fire, many of them children. The army
invariably claims the victims were caught in crossfire.
Palestinians say most of the shooting is indiscriminate and
reckless, or worse.

The latest victims include a one-year-old boy, Alian
Bashiti, shot dead in his home in neighbouring Khan Younis
refugee camp on Wednesday.

Yesterday, Israel's forensic institute issued its autopsy
report which backs up the accounts of witnesses who say that
Miller was killed by a shot from an Israeli armoured
vehicle. A video of the shooting also appears to undermine
Israeli army claims that Miller, 34, was caught in crossfire
and that soldiers shot in his direction in response to
incoming fire from a Palestinian gunman nearby.

The film shows three journalists in flak jackets and
helmets, clearly marked with the letters TV. They are
shouting "Is there anyone there? Is there anyone there? We
are British journalists." A single shot is heard and then
another followed by the sound of Miller groaning after he
was hit. There is no sound of crossfire.

Yesterday, the army said it had yet to receive the report
and therefore could not comment.

The military also now requires visitors to Gaza to declare
that they have no affiliation to the International
Solidarity Movement (ISM) which is close to becoming a
banned organisation since it was revealed that members met
with two British suicide bombers days before the attack on a
Tel Aviv bar last week in which three people were murdered.

The ISM acknowledges that the bombers -- Asif Hanif, who
blew himself up, and Omar Sharif, whose bomb failed to
explode and who is still being hunted - attended one of its
meetings but says the organisation had no idea of their
intent.

A Hamas militant was killed in a helicopter missile strike
in Gaza City yesterday. - Guardian Unlimited © Guardian
Newspapers Limited 2003





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