Associated Press video journalist Simone Camilli and freelance translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash were among five people killed today when an unexploded device was set off in the northern town of Beit Lahiya in Gaza on Wednesday morning, according to the AP.
Gaza police engineers were working to neutralize an unexploded device left behind by the Israel-Hamas conflict when it exploded. Three police engineers were also killed, while four others, including AP photographer Hatem Moussa, were badly injured.
Moussa relayed that he was hit by shrapnel and was knocked unconscious by a second blast while attempting to run away.
Camilli, 35, began reporting for the AP in 2005 and often covered the Middle East. He is the first foreign journalist killed in the current Gaza conflict. He is survived by a longtime partner and a 3-year-old daughter in Beirut, and his father, Pier Luigi, in Italy.
Abu Afash, 36, lived in Gaza and is survived by his wife and two daughters. He often freelanced with the international media as a translator and news assistant.
“Simone was well known throughout Europe, and especially to our video team in London, where his death has hit AP deeply,” AP’s chief executive Gary Pruitt said in a memo to staffers. “As all of you know, this has been a very difficult year for AP. As conflict and violence grows around the world, our work becomes more important but also more dangerous. We take every precaution we can to protect the brave journalists who staff our front lines. I never cease to be amazed at their courage.”
Meanwhile, Alissa J. Rubin, the New York Times reporter injured in a helicopter crash in Iraq on Tuesday, has left the region and is recovering in Istanbul, Turkey.
“As you all know, our colleague Alissa Rubin was injured in a helicopter crash in northern Iraq on Tuesday. The good news is that she is now in stable condition at the American Hospital in Istanbul,” New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said in a memo to staffers. “She is in the intensive care unit, mainly so she can be observed closely.”
Baquet also said, “This is a good time to reflect on our colleagues who are covering the world at a particularly violent, tumultuous time. I don’t recall a period when so many writers, photographers and videographers have been in harm’s way for The Times and other news organizations, taking risks and living away from their families to tell important stories…We are profoundly indebted to them. “