Forbidden Stories
Gaza Project

Anatomy of a Shooting: How the Israeli Forces targeted an Al Araby TV Crew in the West Bank

On May 4, 2024, two journalists from Al Araby TV who were covering an Israeli raid in the West Bank were fired upon. Forbidden Stories and its partners reconstructed the trajectory of the first shot that hit the camera, determining that it came from Israeli forces vehicles parked only about sixty meters away.

(Visual : Mélody Da Fonseca)

Key findings
  • Bullet fragments, alongside damage to Al Araby TV camera equipment, indicate that it was struck twice by two separate bullets.
  • Combined trajectory and sound analysis by Doctor Rob Maher and audio research agency Earshot suggest that the first gunshot that hit the camera originated approximately 60 meters from the journalists. Their recollection, as well as video footage from that morning, show that at least three Israeli forces vehicles were positioned at that exact location.
  • Forbidden Stories and its partners examined approximately 60 videos of the events that took place on that day, including exclusive footage, and gathered testimonials from eight witnesses. The consortium found no evidence of any gunfire exchange in the journalist’s location prior to the shooting.

By Sofía Álvarez Jurado & Youssr Youssef (FS)

June 25, 2024

With Firas Taweel, Hoda Osman (ARIJ), Walid Batrawi, Mariana Abreu (FS)

“Since the incident, I keep telling the photographer: I feel like I’ll be killed.”

Ameed Shehade can still hear the sound of the bullet grazing past his head. The Al Araby TV correspondent and his cameraman, Rabi Al-Munayer, found themselves under Israeli forces fire while on assignment on a gently sloping hill, offering clear visibility. Their unmistakable identification as journalists – press vests, helmets, tripods, camera and microphone – wasn’t enough to protect them.

Ameed Shehadeh and Rabi Al-Munayer (Al Araby TV) a few minutes after the shooting. (Credit: Own elaboration with screenshots from a video by Issam Rimawi).

The journalist received at least three bullets that were fired in their direction, two of which struck their camera. According to Shehade, the camera was positioned approximately half a meter from him, and no more than 30 centimeters away from Al-Munayer.

“This is a message they are sending to us,” Shehade told Forbidden Stories, slipping out of the confident voice he uses on TV. His interpretation of the incident comes from 14 years of experience working as a reporter in the occupied West Bank.

“Please record what I say in case anything bad happens,” he said. “We as reporters who are working in the West Bank feel now more than ever that we could go for a report and never come back.”

In the early hours of May 4, Shehade and Al-Munayer headed to Deir al-Ghusun, northeast of the city of Tulkarm, in Palestine’s occupied West Bank, to cover an Israeli raid that had been ongoing over 12 hours. According to the Israel Police Spokesperson’s Unit, the operation involved counterterrorism forces from the Israel Police, IDF, and Shin Bet, guided by intelligence from the Shin Bet and the Military Intelligence Directorate (AMAN), aiming to “thwart a terrorist cell.”

Israeli forces leveled with a bulldozer a two-story house allegedly belonging to members of Hamas –designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, and Israel in particular. Five Palestinians had been killed overnight, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry and the Israeli forces; Hamas confirmed that four of them were members of its al-Qassam armed wing.

According to six journalists present on the ground that day – along with Shehade and Al-Munayer – who spoke to Forbidden Stories and its partners, there was no military activity, upheaval, or even stone throwing in their immediate vicinity. The closest fighting would have taken place around the targeted house, approximately 290 meters away from them.

Upon arrival, the crew set up on top of a nearby hill for a better view of the events at the house, they told the consortium.

According to Shehade, the soldiers were aware of their presence as reporters; they were clearly identified as such and didn’t change location between the time they arrived on the hill, at approximately 8 a.m., and the moment of the shooting, at 10:30 a.m., (Forbidden Stories was able to extract the metadata from a picture taken at 9:28 AM, where both journalists can be seen in the same location and wearing press vests.)

Ameed Shehadeh and Rabi Al-Munayer (Al Araby TV) one hour before the shooting, working on top of a hill in Deir Al-Ghusun (Credit: Rabi Al-Munayer/ Al Araby TV).

According to footage and open-source intelligence collected by Forbidden Stories, at least three Israeli military vehicles were positioned roughly 60 meters from the journalists. Satellite imagery shows an unobstructed path between the journalists and the soldiers: no building, only a hill with local vegetation such as a palm tree and sparse dry grass. It was a clear shot. At that moment, Shehade says that only he and Al-Munayer were standing on that particular corner of the hill.

Forbidden Stories reviewed the live broadcast of Al Araby from that day, starting around 8:20 a.m. until the delayed announcement of the accident around 10:43 a.m. Shehade and Al-Munayer’s camera feed appeared on screen for at least an hour and 50 minutes, with no reported disturbance around them for the length of the broadcast. Additionally, during this period, the three military vehicles can be seen in the same spot each time Al-Munayer’s video footage focused there.

In an excerpt of this live posted online by Al Araby TV earlier that morning, the presenter asked Shehade, “Could the situation escalate in the following hours?” The journalist’s response was: “The upheaval is focused exclusively on the targeted house … We are not talking about clashes in the surrounding houses, not even in the surrounding neighborhoods.” 

But at approximately 10:30 a.m., the first of at least three bullets struck right beside the journalists. 

The crew’s camera was recording during the attack, capturing the journalists’ conversation and the sound of two bullets striking the equipment. The first one appears to have struck the camera’s cable, cutting the live signal, and the second one to have hit the camera itself, causing it to cease functioning immediately.

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“Look, he’s shooting at us”

Forbidden Stories obtained this 34-second video from Al Araby TV’s camera capturing the moment when bullets struck the equipment

The recording begins with the sound of a gunshot, after which the camera moves slightly. Shehade explained that they accidentally jostled the tripod while seeking cover, resulting in the camera movement seen in the footage. Towards the end of the video, a second gunshot is heard, and the recording ends abruptly.

Initially, the journalists were uncertain about the source of the gunfire. Shehade thought it might have come from soldiers near the targeted house. “Look, he’s shooting at us,” he warned his cameraman, as can be heard in the video, urging him to focus on the jeep in that location. But after the initial shock, they realized that the shots might have come from the army vehicles that had been stationed for hours at the bottom of the hill with an unobstructed view

Transcript of the 34-second video recorded by Al Araby TV on May 4, during the shootings (Credit: Own elaboration).

An independent analysis by the audio research agency Earshot explained that when an intermediate caliber gun is fired towards a recording device, two distinct sounds are typically captured: the supersonic sound of the bullet and the muzzle blast. According to Earshot, both sounds were audible in Al Araby TV’s 34-second video, with a long enough interval between the sounds to indicate the recording device was in the line of fire.

Earshot’s analysis suggested that, for the second gunshot (the first one that hit the camera), a shooter firing the standard Israeli forces issued ammunition would have been about 62 meters away – consistent with the location where eyewitnesses and video footage from that morning placed at least three vehicles belonging to the Israeli forces, and with the bullet’s entry angle.

Audio forensic consultant Rob Maher, offering the caveat that his comments were made in a personal capacity, also reviewed the sounds of both gunshots. “Assuming the material provided was authentic and made available under the circumstances described,” his analysis concluded that “if the identified sounds are, in fact, a shock wave and muzzle blast combination,” the time lags would correspond to a distance of 62.1 meters for the second gunshot.

The consortium was not able to determine the exact origin of the first gunshot, but both experts agreed that it was fired from a different –and closer –location.

Damage to the Al Araby TV camera sustained during the shooting (Credit: Own elaboration with pictures from Ameed Shehade).

Damage to the Al Araby TV camera sustained during the shooting (Credit: Own elaboration with pictures from Ameed Shehade).

A forensic examination of the camera carried out by the consortium confirmed the impacts of two bullets: one penetrated the camera from the front at an angle and was lodged inside, while the other penetrated the camera from the right side, also at an angle, and exited from the rear

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a weapons expert consulted by Forbidden Stories said that, given the distance between the soldiers and the journalists, and considering the presence of entry and exit holes, as well as the bullet fragments found inside the camera, the likelihood of them being stray bullets was “extraordinarily improbable.”

In a May 7 response to CPJ about the case, the Israeli military North America Desk said “at no point was there any deliberate shooting by IDF forces at journalists.” According to them, Israeli forces in the area fired weapons in response to gunfire from “terrorists.” When presented with the results of this investigation roughly two months later, the Israeli military declined to comment and redirected the consortium to the Israeli police, which according to them, conducted the operation. The Israeli police did not reply to our specific questions, but stated they “take all claims of injury to journalists seriously,” and referred us to the “IDF Spokesperson’s Unit” for “questions about jurisdictions or specific military activities.

Vehicles of the Israeli forces in Deir Al-Ghusun the morning of May 4, 2024. (Source: Own elaboration with pictures from Ameed Shehade and Wafeya Abed Ulhadi).

Area of interest for the events of May 4 in Deir Al-Ghusun (Credit: Own elaboration).

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“Soldiers don’t see journalists, they see targets”

Since October 7, 2023, following Hamas’s terror attacks on Israeli soil, and the beginning of the war on Gaza, several journalists working in the occupied West Bank have reported heightened risks associated with the exercise of their profession, citing an increase in violence against reporters all over Palestine

Former Israeli soldier Joel Carmel, now a member of Breaking the Silence (BTS) – an Israeli NGO established in 2004 by Israeli military veterans to allow them to confidentially recount their experiences in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – explained to Forbidden Stories that the rules of engagement have become very loose, and this has become more pronounced after October 7.

The Israeli military told the consortium that “The RoE [Rules of Engagement] complies with Israeli law and international law” and that “due to their classification, they cannot be disclosed.”

“Ultimately, if the soldier knows they can always justify shooting [at civilians] by saying they felt threatened, that’s what happens, right?” Carmel said. “They only need to say they felt under threat; they don’t need to prove it. And soldiers walk around with the feeling they’re under threat all the time … the training that you get in the army gives you the feeling that the Palestinians are a threat.”

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“Soldiers in the West Bank today walk around [and] when they see Palestinians, they see enemies. They don’t see journalists, they see targets,” he added.

In a video filmed by freelance journalist Issam Rimawi around fifteen minutes after the incident, which circulated on social media, colleagues can be heard congratulating Shehade and Al-Munayer for escaping death a second time.

The first time was less than a year before: in July 2023, Shehade and Al-Munayer found themselves in the line of fire during their coverage of an Israeli military operation in the Jenin refugee camp. According to Shehade’s own report of the incident, as well as those of other international media [see 1, 2, 3], soldiers in a military jeep fired at their equipment repeatedly. In a video published by The New Arab at the time of the incident, shots are heard, the camera is jolted and the crew’s transmitter is seen in flames.

Attack suffered by Al Araby TV crew on July 3, 2023, by the Israeli military, while reporting in Jenin (Source: Personal documentation with screenshots from the video published by The New Arab).

The Israeli military told the consortium that July 3, 2023 marked the beginning of an “IDF and Israel Border Police operation in the Jenin camp” during which “there were heavy exchanges of fire with terrorists.” They added that “the IDF has no intention of harming any civilians, including journalists.”

This incident held particular significance for having occurred in the same city where renowned journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli military sniper fire while on assignment on May 11, 2022 [see 1, 2].

“I lost [hope of obtaining] justice after our colleague Shireen was killed,” Rimawi, who also worked as a journalist in the West Bank for 16 years, told the consortium. “The whole world was with her, talking about her. There was no October 7th, no nothing. And what was the result?” As of today, no one was convicted for Abu Akleh’s killing.

Testimonials of six journalists, as well as pictures and video footage collected by Forbidden Stories and its partners, confirm that at least 14 journalists were present in Deir al-Ghusun covering the raids, including Shehade and Al-Munayer. Some of them were not far from where the crew came under fire.

Although no one else witnessed the incident, most of them became aware of the shooting right after it occurred: a bystander who witnessed the immediate aftermath, and who asked to remain anonymous, said that she saw, minutes after the shooting, the team lying on the ground for cover.

Khaled Bdair, a correspondent for Al-Ghad TV, was standing with journalist Wafa Awad of Wafa News Agency at a different location on the same hill where Shehade and Al-Munayer were filming. When Israeli forces first started to shoot, Bdair and Awad thought they might themselves be targets, but they soon realized that the bullets had struck Al Araby’s equipment (in this video Bdair can be seen reporting on the incident in the immediate aftermath for Al Ghad TV, visibly affected by the shooting). An Al Jazeera correspondent also announced during his broadcast that the Israeli military had shot at the journalists.

Journalists reporting from a rooftop in Deir Al-Ghusun, the morning of May 4, 2024 (Source: Issam Rimawi/ freelancer).

The journalists said they got no warning from the Israeli military about risks at their site. “We would have moved away. But we were in an area that was relatively far from the army. There was no [warning of] danger at all,” Bdair said.

For Rimawi, the freelancer, the Israeli military’s motivation for targeting journalists is clear. “They fear the cameras,” he said. “That’s why they target the journalists, because they don’t want the world to see the crimes.” 

“That’s why they fire directly at the lens or at the journalist’s eye,” he added. “Even if they are wearing press vests … they no longer have red lines after October 7th.” 

A few minutes before the shooting against the Al Araby TV crew, Israeli forces also threw tear gas and stun grenades at a group of around ten journalists – Rimawi among them – who were likewise on assignment and clearly identified with press vests.

Journalists recovering after being attacked by the Israeli forces with tear gas and sound blasts, the morning of May 4, 2024, in Deir Al-Ghusun (Credit: Personal documentation with pictures by Raghad Salameh and other journalists present).

Journalists trying to escape tear gas thrown by the Israeli forces the morning of May 4, 2024 in Deir Al-Ghusun (Credit: Own elaboration with screenshots from a video by Raghad Salameh).

In a climate of rising violence against journalists, this second episode of targeting by the Israeli military just a year after the shooting in Jenin has taken a toll on Shehade’s morale. “I think about it every day,” he said. “Why did they do that to us for the second time?”

Shehade told Forbidden Stories that since the incident, he often tells his cameraman that he fears being killed while on assignment. “If we were to be killed by the Israeli Army, we said several times that we were being targeted and didn’t feel safe,” he said.

Despite these concerns, Shehade and Al-Munayer continue to report every day, clad in press vests and camera in hand, doing their best to bring stories from the West Bank to the rest of the world.

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