Did an Israeli Sniper Kill an Unarmed Man in Gaza?



Salem Shamaly was just one of the many who was killed during the recent conflict in Gaza.
But his death was captured on video and the images of him dying in the rubble of the bombed out neighborhood of Shujaya were posted online, sparking a heated debate about whether the unarmed man, looking for his relatives in the ruins, was shot by an Israeli sniper. If so, it could constitute a war crime.
Known to some as "the man in the green shirt," the 23-year-old Palestinian was killed on July 20.
I recently went back with a television crew from Channel 4 News to investigate his death.

Did an Israeli Sniper Kill an Unarmed Man in Gaza? by talkingpointsmemo
Shamaly had been with a group of people from the International Solidarity Movement at the time of his death and I sought out the activists so I could retrace his last steps.



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Destroyed houses in Shujayah
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Clambering over scattered concrete blocks strewn with discarded shoes, chunks of broken furniture and scraps of clothing we navigated our way cautiously through the wasteland. Mindful of the dangers of unexploded ordinance, we tiptoed through the ruins of pulverized homes, pushing aside tangles of electric cabling, slung across our path.
To reach the place where Shamaly was killed, we had to traverse several blocks where the entire facades of buildings had been sliced off. It was like peering inside giant dolls houses with exposed bathroom fittings and dust-filled front rooms where neatly arranged armchairs and televisions sets had been abandoned in an instant.



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Man sits in destroyed home, Shujayah
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Inside one crushed home, a disconsolate man was slumped, oblivious to a chunk of concrete dangling precariously above his head, his eyes scouring his ruined home in a daze. A few houses further up, a woman sat solemnly, staring out from a mountainous pile of rubble that was once a home.
During the fighting, bodies were buried in the rubble of Shujayah and although corpses had now been retrieved, a pungent stench of death still hung over the neighborhood.



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Destruction in Shujayah
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

We eventually stopped by another collapsed building where a tattered Palestinian flag fluttered from the roof. Pointing toward a layer of pulverized debris a few feet away from where we stood, we were told that this was where Shamaly was fatally shot dead.
It was a Gaza-based activist, Mohammed Abedullah, who captured Shamaly’s death on his phone.
He told me he had first met Shamaly during the ceasefire that day and had agreed to help him try to find his relatives in the Shajayah neighborhood, which had been pummeled by a heavy Israeli bombardment.



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Destruction in Shujayah

In the video Shamaly can be seen helping injured civilians while also trying to locate his own relatives, calling out their names but getting no response. The video shows no sign of anyone in the surrounding houses or the streets - nor is there any sign of any Israeli soldiers or military activity, except for the sounds of drones above them.
“So we thought [the Israelis] can see us and we are in the middle of a ceasefire so nothing should happen,” Mohammed told me as he recalled that day. “We’re coming here to help people — that was it.”

Did an Israeli Sniper Kill an Unarmed Man in Gaza by talkingpointsmemo
Surveying the scene, I wanted to recreate Shamaly’s last moments to understand what had happened.
The activists, who had been with Shamaly when he was shot, told me that they had been walking past an alleyway when the first of four shots suddenly rang out.
The group was immediately split in two, with Shamaly, Mohammed and a British activist named Rina Andolini on one side of the alleyway and two Swedish and an American activist on the other. In the video Rina can be heard saying: “I am now scared.”
The activists recalled how Shamaly went into a nearby building to search for injured relatives; when he stepped back into the alleyway again, he was shot.



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Mohamed pointing to place where Shamaly was shot
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

The activists say Shamaly was hit first in the left thigh by a shot fired from nearby. The moment is not caught on camera but they told me that Shamaly fell backwards, onto the ground.
When the video begins again, it is clear that he has been injured and is struggling to get up. “He tried to make movement to get up, basically, and then the third shot was fired,” Rina recalled.
In the video, another shot can be heard after which Shamaly slumps back, lifeless to the ground. “There was no need,” Rina told me. “He was on the ground. He was not a threat at all.”



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View from where Shamaly was shot to the house he may have been shot from
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Looking up from the position in the rubble where Shamaly was shot, we noticed a house that had a clear view of the alleyway. We could see that a spraypainted cross on the wall and were told by locals that Israeli soldiers had marked the house after occupying it.
We went over to have a look. A young man named Hatem showed me inside the house where rooms had been trashed and Hebrew graffiti covered the walls. Sandbags were still piled by the windows from which one had a clear view of the area.



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View of wide area neighbourhood from House occupied by Israeli soldiers - looking towards where
Salem Shamaly was shot
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Looking at where we had just been standing by the alleyway, it was immediately apparent that anyone shooting from this building would have had a clear line of fire to where Shamaly was shot.



sniper-position

Hole punched into a wall indicated what could have served as a sniper position.
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Hatem showed me what he believed to be a sniper's position: a hole had been punched through the wall, just above the floor. He lay down on the floor to show me how a soldier might have positioned himself. Peering through the hole in the wall, there was a clear view. Bullet casings were scattered all around the floor near the hole as well as by all the front windows.



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Bullet casings on floor near the window and hole in the wall.
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Hatem also showed me around the house next door. It, too, was badly damaged and around the rooms there was evidence of the presence of Israeli soldiers, including discarded uniforms.



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Stars of David graffitied on the wall of the house seemingly occupied by Israeli soldiers.

On one wall, the words "Long Live Israel!" were scrawled alongside a Star of David. There were also graffitied instructions to urinate in the stairwell. On other wall there were maps of the area, which designated the houses in the area and the house that the soldiers had been occupying.
After going through the house, we went to meet Mohammed al Qatawi, Shamaly’s cousin, who is trying to bring together evidence for a war crimes case.



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Map on wall of house occupied by Israeli soldiers
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Qatawi showed me pictures he took of Shamaly’s badly decomposed body. The corpse couldn’t be retrieved from the rubble until six days after the shooting because of ongoing fighting. Qatawi sought to get access to his cousin’s body and took the pictures because he thought it would be important evidence.
Even though the body was in a very bad state, a bullet entry wound in the left thigh is clearly visible, conforming to what the activists told me about the first bullet hitting Shamaly in the thigh.
An Israeli activist has told Channel 4 News that he has gathered testimony from three Israeli soldiers who said they witnessed Shamaly's killing. “They were completely convinced that what they did was wrong,” the Israeli activist, Eran Efrati, said. “They were guilty. The man in the green shirt was not any threat to their lives.”
Qatawi has already met with an investigator from the United Nations and Shamaly’s family is keen to take the case forward. Officials from the United Nations and human rights groups say actions by both Israel and Hamas could be prosecuted as war crimes. But there have been few successful prosecutions since the International Criminal Court was founded in 2002, and neither Israel or the Palestinians are parties to the court.
Mark Regev, an Israeli spokesman, told Channel 4 news that anyone who has information about the shooting of Shamaly should come forward. “Obviously if there are allegations of misbehavior by Israeli soldiers, they must be investigated.”
Inigo Gilmore (@InigoGilmore) is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker who has reported widely in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. He first visited Gaza in 2001. He has won a Royal Television Society award and has twice been nominated for an Amnesty Award. He frequently reports for Channel 4 News. Watch his reportage from Gaza here.


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Russian Aid Convoy Crosses Into Ukraine; Kiev Calls It a 'Direct Invasion'



The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow.
KIEV, Ukraine — Russia has sent scores of trucks carrying humanitarian aid through a rebel-controlled border crossing into war-torn eastern Ukraine in a move Kiev authorities have called “a direct invasion.”
“We call that a direct invasion. Under the cynical cover of the Red Cross these are military vehicles with cover documents,” the chief of the Security Service of Ukraine, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, told reporters on Friday.
Ukraine had said previously that the aid convoy entering the country without its consent would be considered an act of aggression.

Moscow made the decision after the trucks sat idle in a customs inspection zone at the Russian-Ukrainian border for more than a week while awaiting permission from Kiev to enter the country.
Ukrainian officials feared that the convoy, comprised of some 270 Kamaz military trucks covered in white tarpaulin, was a Trojan horse sent by Moscow to transport arms and reinforcements to Kremlin-backed rebels who have fought pitched battles against government forces for more than four months.
But there was no dispute that at least some of the trucks carried humanitarian aid. Ukrainian border guards and customs officers cleared 34 of the trucks on Thursday, the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service said Friday.

“The total weight of the cargo is over 260,000 kilos. It’s composed of cereals, salt and water,” the border service reported. Two of the 34 trucks were carrying medication, it said.

But Russia on Friday grew tired of waiting for the final green light to move the trucks into Ukraine, with the foreign ministry saying in a strongly worded statement that it was weary of “intolerable” delays and an increasing amount of “new and artificial demands and pretexts, which is turning into a mockery.”

So it “decided to act,” sending in the trucks without permission from Ukraine or the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which had been tasked with inspecting and accompanying the convoy to the besieged city of Luhansk.
New York Times journalist on the scene, Andrew Roth, said the entire convoy had made its way into Ukraine shortly after 3 p.m. local time on Friday.

Ukrainian border guards were not present on the Ukraine side to receive the aid, "only rebels in front," Roth said.

The convoy is en route to the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk. The separatist stronghold has been without power, telecommunications and running water for 20 days, after shells pounded the city and destroyed much of its infrastructure.

Food is also scarce in the city, as stores sell off the last of their goods. Some of the several hundreds of thousands of residents who managed to flee Luhansk, a city with a pre-war population of about 450,000, have given harrowing accounts of life amid constant fighting.

Residents wait for hours in line each day to fill their buckets at one of the few water trucks. Some, however, opt to fill their pails in local streams. Many spend a considerable amount of time in dank basements to protect themselves from exploding projectiles.

The ICRC said in a statement on Twitter that it is not escorting the convoy due to security concerns and, specifically, reports of “heavy shelling overnight.”

“The Russian Aid Convoy is moving into Ukraine, but we are not escorting it due to the volatile security situation,” said the ICRC. “We’ve not received sufficient security guarantees from the fighting parties.”

Shortly after entering Ukraine at the border town of Izvaryne, the convoy turned off the main road to Luhansk and cut north onto a country road and parked in the village of Uralo-Kavkaz, the AP reported. That route also leads to Luhansk, potentially bypassing areas controlled by Ukrainian troops.

The New York Times reporter also following the convoy reported it had turned back at Krasnodon, a city southeast of Luhansk.

With the trucks trundling toward Luhansk, and Ukraine calling the move an “invasion,” many fear provocations against the convoy, which could potentially spark an all-out war between Russia and Ukraine.

“We are warning against any attempts to sabotage this purely humanitarian mission, which was prepared a long time ago, in an atmosphere of full transparency and in cooperation with the Ukrainian side and the ICRC,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

Kiev, meanwhile, said that “all responsibility” rests with the Russian side. “Not with the terrorists, but specifically the Russian side, because this is their decision," Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry also accused the "terrorists" — its term for the pro-Russian separatists — of "shelling the convoy’s possible route with mortars." That could not be confirmed, but the belief in Kiev is that rebels could blame Ukrainian troops for any attack on the convoy in order to provoke a Russian military response.


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Sony May Be Releasing Perfume Bottle Selfie Camera



Taking a selfie is almost an art form nowadays — but one electronics company may make it a thing of beauty.
Images that surfaced on Asian social media site Weibo this week allegedly show a Sony camera shaped like a perfume bottle, sparking rumors that the company could launch it in Asian markets soon. Even stranger than the shape, it seems the camera is specifically for selfie-taking.
Below are two photos posted on Weibo that supposedly show the camera:


Girl taking selfie with perfume camera


Sony has not confirmed whether the images are real. A spokesperson told Mash that the company does not comment on speculation.


perfume bottle selfie


Also adding to the buzz is the fact that Sony released a new camera this week that's able to create the "perfect selfie," with the help of its 180-degree tilt feature.
Although the perfume-inspired move may sound strange, smartphone cases that shaped like perfume bottles are already popular in Asia, and perhaps Sony is looking to capitalize on the trend.


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