'A journalist and a soldier'

23-year old Fadel Shana had made a big impact on the Gaza media scene despite his young age. His friends and colleagues remember him as someone utterly committed to his job as a cameraman for Reuters but who also saw himself as a soldier for the Palestinian cause.
shana funeral.jpg
Reuters photographer Ismail Zaydah holds Fadel Shana's video camera up during his funeral in Gaza on Thursday. © Reuters

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza, April 17, 2008 (MENASSAT) – The funeral tent for Fadel Shana, the 23-year-old Reuters cameraman who was killed by an Israeli shell on Wednesday, was decorated with roses, pictures of Fadel and the camera he used to film the Israeli tank which killed him.

There were also pictures of other journalists killed by Israeli fire in the Palestinian territories as well as journalists killed elsewhere. Every journalist working in Gaza, whether for local or international media, as well as the foreign journalists present in Gaza cam to pay their respects.

Fadel's sudden death has devastated many of his friends and colleagues who remember him as someone who was always smiling and was always had a joke ready. Despite his young age Fadel Shana had made a big impression on the Gaza media scene.

"Fadel was a very ambitious young man," Wissam Nassar, a photographer for the Palestinian Maan news agency and a friend of Fadel, told MENASSAT. "He was always bent on becoming a professional cameraman; it was his life dream."

Nassar remembered an Israeli incursion two years ago in al-Shoujaiya street, east of Gaza.

"The Israeli forces threw two bombs on the Hajjaj family house, which resulted in the death of most the family members. Fadel was the first journalist to get to the scene and take pictures of the massacre. I remember as we were leaving he was crying and said, 'This scenery is horrible, I almost couldn't take it. But I had to take pictures to show them to the whole world."

Fadel was getting married soon and was saving money to buy an apartment in Gaza. "I opened a bank account in his name to help him save," Nassar said.

"I took my last two pictures of Fadel on April 12th. In one he was wearing sunglasses, and in the other he was holding his hand up. He asked me to hold on to these photographs saying that I would be needing them soon. I never thought I would be publishing them a few days later after his death."

Fadel had worked Reuters as a cameraman for Reuters for only three years. It was enough to make him one of the most famous cameramen in the agency, thanks to his courage and enthusiasm. He almost died two years ago when Israeli planes targeted his car. (That time too the car had been clearly marked as a press vehicle.) But the rocket narrowly missed hit the car, leaving Fadel wounded. It didn't take long before he was back on the job.

A family of journalists

"He was the very example of a man utterly committed to his work", said Wafa Abu Zaid, who has been Fadel's for four years. "At the same time he was a very loving person to all those around him. He treated everyone with love and spontaneity."

He added with a trembling voice: "I lost a brother and a friend. We shared an apartment in Gaza to make our job easier, especially since we are not from the city. Fadel was never late for work. He always tried to be the first witness to any Israeli incursion or operation, t be the first one to get the story out."

Fadel has three brothers, one of them who also works as a cameraman for Reuters. He was too emotional to talk.

Fadel's uncle, Shams Shana, head of photography department in Reuters, was too busy receiving condolences. However, he managed to say: "I don't know how we will ever get used to Fadel's death at Reuters."

All those who knew Fadel or worked with him remembered him as a highly moral man, who believed in his job as a cameraman but also in the Palestinian cause and the role of the media in it.

After covering the Israeli incursion in the Jabaliya camp, he said: "I am in the field, working as a cameraman and as an emergency worker. What matters to me is transmitting the suffering of my people because of the Israeli attacks."

"We, as cameramen, consider ourselves to be unknown soldiers ... We transmit the scenes as they are to the world, and we don't cover anything that could harm our people and its rightful cause."

After his first injury in 2006, Fadel declared that he was not afraid to die at the hands of the Israelis as long as he believed he was a soldier fulfilling his duties in his own way. He said that only two things can get to him and put an end to his commitment to his job: "Death or a  handicap."

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Gaza doctors say Israeli shell killed Reuters cameraman
Posted on 04/17/2008 - 13:04
Fadel Shana, a 23-year-old Palestinian cameraman working for Reuters, was killed by an Israeli shell on Wednesday – moments after he had filmed the tank opening fire. Rights groups are demanding a quick and thorough investigation. SHANA COMP.jpg