(Reprinted from the March 28, 1998 issue of the People's
Weekly World. May be reprinted or reposted with PWW credit.
For subscription information see below)
By Hans Lebrecht
TEL AVIV - On March 10, three Palestinian workers, Ghaleb
al-Radjoub, 39, Adnan Abu-Zneid, 34, and Mohammed Danoun,
27, did not return to their village southwest of Hebron in
the Palestinian West Bank. Israeli soldiers, near
Tarqoumiya at a roadblock set up by the occupation troops,
killed them and wounded five others.
The soldiers opened fire on a van carrying workers
returning from their jobs in Israel. The tension in the
Palestinian areas, those under Palestinian National
Authority (PNA) authority or still under full Israeli
occupation, caused by the continued arbitrary apartheid
policy of the Israeli occupation regime, is becoming
unbearable. Inevitably the area will explode with a full-
fledged Intifada (the Arab word for revolt), this time
fought not only with rocks, but also with firearms - if the
Israeli regime does not radically change its policy.
The two soldiers who fired the fatal shots said they
thought the van was going to hit someone, but they could
have shot at the tires, or used some other way stop to the
vehicle without endangering innocent passengers. Of course,
these soldiers are themselves victims of an unbearable
stress, being ordered to do the dirty job of implementing
against ordinary people the orders of the suppressive
apartheid regime. One can imagine the stress built up at
these arbitrary checkpoints, when people coming back from a
day of hard labor have to wait, sometimes one or two hours,
in vehicles queuing up. Nothing can excuse these soldiers
shooting to kill, but the real culprit is the inhuman
occupation policy they are ordered to carry out.
According to eyewitnesses, including others in the van, the
van was searched by an Israeli border guard and the
identity papers of the driver and passengers scrutinized
before the guard waved the driver through the checkpoint.
However, the guards at the barrier were not informed of
this. When the driver passed other vehicles still waiting,
one of the soldiers apparently thought he was trying to
force his way through the barrier or to hit another
officer. The guards opened fire, killing or wounding eight
Calling the murder merely "a regrettable accident," Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "apologized" to the Palestinian
people, but angry protests took place in Hebron, Bethlehem,
Nablus and other West Bank towns. Within a week Israeli
troops killed two more Palestinians and wounded more than
The situation worsened when a few dozen of the "settlers"
in Hebron entered the Palestinian area of the town, hurled
rocks at passersby and shattered windows of houses and
cars. The rioters overran the Palestinian policemen until a
unit of Israeli occupation troops arrived at the scene.
These troops started to disperse the settler gangs, while,
at the same time, shooting at Palestinian passersby,
wounding several, including two Palestinian police officers
and nine journalists.
Most of the journalists were foreign reporters and all of
them accredited by the Israeli and the Palestinian
government press offices. I myself saw on television a
Reuters cameraman, Na'el Shuyoukhi, hit in the head by a
bullet. He fell to the ground, blood streaming down his
face. On the ground he was shot two more times while
screaming, "Don't shoot. I am a journalist."
His colleague, Reuters TV correspondent Mazen Dana, tried
to help, but was himself shot in the shoulder. All the
journalists at the scene were shouting to the Israeli
soldiers "We are journalists, don't shoot at us," but to no
The Israeli commander of the occupation troops in the
Hebron sector claimed, that it had been too dark to
determine who were journalists and who were rioters.
However, some of the reporters held TV cameras and had
markers on their hats identifying them as foreign press.
The next day's Israeli papers carried editorials saying it
was precisely because these journalists were taking
pictures of the settlers rioting in a Palestinian- held
area, that they were targeted.
The Foreign Press Association of Israel stated in a press
release that the foreign press working in Israel and
Palestine will not accept the fact that Israeli soldiers
shot at journalists doing their job. The statement said the
official (Israeli) explanation is not based on the facts or
the video evidence of the incident. The association said it
would seek international help in stopping such acts.
Reporters of the Communist press in Israel sent a cable to
the Israeli Journalist Association, calling on it to show
solidarity with the wounded journalists, as well as to act
to stop any future incidents.