Two journalists killed while photographing bomb dismantling in Gaza
Two journalists have been killed in an ordnance explosion while working on an assignment in the Gaza Strip.
Italian videographer Simon Camilli and Palestinian photographer Ali Shehda Abu Afash died when ordnance left over from fighting between Israel and Islamic militants blew up as Gazan police engineers were working to neutralise it in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya.
Police said three police engineers were also killed, while four people, including Associated Press photographer Hatem Moussa, were badly injured.
Mr Camilli had worked for the Associated Press since being hired as a freelancer in Rome in 2005. He relocated to Jerusalem in 2006, and often covered assignments in Gaza.
Mr Camilli, 35, is the first foreign journalist killed in the Gaza conflict, which has taken more than 1,900 Palestinian lives and 67 on the Israeli side. He leaves behind his long-time partner and a three-year-old daughter.
Abu Afash, a 36-year-old Gaza resident, leaves behind a wife and two daughters, aged five and six. He often worked with the international media as a translator and news assistant.
Najib Jobain, the AP's chief producer in Gaza, said Mr Camilli was a welcome face in Gaza who had recently turned down an assignment in Iraq to come to the strip.
"He was my brother. I have known him for almost 10 years. He was so happy to be with me working in Gaza," Mr Jobain said. "He was asked, 'Do you want to go to Irbil or Gaza?' He said, 'I'll go to Gaza'."
The deaths came as Palestinian negotiators mulled over an Egyptian proposal to end the month-long Israel-Hamas war as the latest 72-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip was due to expire at midnight tonight.
Since the truce went into effect on Sunday, Israel has halted military operations in the coastal territory and Gaza militants have stopped firing rockets.
The ceasefire was meant to give the two sides time to negotiate a more sustainable truce and a roadmap for the coastal territory.
A member of the Palestinian delegation to Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo said today that his team was considering an Egyptian proposal, which was tabled yesterday.
Egyptian mediators were ferrying between the Palestinians and their Israeli counterparts in an attempt overcome the differences between the sides.
The Egyptian proposal calls for easing parts of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, bringing some relief to the territory, according to Palestinian officials in the talks. But it leaves the key areas of disagreement, including Hamas' demand for a full lifting of the blockade and Israeli calls for Hamas to disarm, to later negotiations.
The Palestinian negotiator said he had some reservations about the proposal and would try to improve it.
"We would like to see more cross-border freedom, and also to have the question of a Gaza seaport and airport discussed," he said.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has advised all journalists who continue to report in Gaza to remain vigilant at all times, even during periods of ceasefire.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of these two journalists and we send our deepest condolences to their families and colleagues,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.