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Israeli shooting of film-maker “cold-blooded murder”

July 1, 2012

Friday, April 14. 2006

The shooting of British film maker shot dead in Gaza by Israeli Defence Force (IDF) was described as “cold-blooded murder” by a security expert at an inquest.

James Miller, 34, from Devon, was shot by a soldier from the IDF while making a film in a Palestinian refugee camp in 2003.

Although an Israeli investigation in April 2005 cleared a soldier of misusing firearms, a former weapons inspector Chris Cobb-Smith said there was no way the soldier fired by accident and also said Mr Miller was holding a torch under a white flag.

“This was calculated and cold-blooded murder, without a shadow of a doubt,” Mr Cobb-Smith told the inquest.

“These shots were not fired by a soldier who was frightened, not fired by a soldier facing incoming fire – these were slow, deliberate, calculated and aimed shots.”

Mr Miller had been wearing a helmet and flak jacket with bright fluorescent letters on the front reading ‘TV’ as he approached the soldiers in Rafah at about 2300 on 2 May 2003, the inquest jury heard.

A shot was fired, followed by a second fatal shot 12 to 13 seconds later. Several more shots were fired at seven to 12 second intervals, hitting the Palestinian house, from which the TV crew had emerged.

Mr Cobb-Smith said this illustrated that the shots were deliberate and that the Israeli soldiers would also have had night vision equipment on their armoured personnel carrier (APC) which would have made it obvious that the cameraman, reporter and interpreter were unarmed and presented no threat.

The security expert was also critical of the Israeli army as it was unable to provide a record of soldiers’ weapons and any ammunition they may have discharged.

Reporter Saira Shah, who was standing next to Mr Miller when he was shot, also gave evidence to the inquest.

In a witness statement read out by coroner Dr Andrew Reid, the inquest heard that she and Mr Miller, accompanied by their interpreter Abdul Rahman Abdullah, slowly approached the IDF soldiers with their white flag held high.

All three froze after the first shot and then dropped to the ground when the second shot rang out, but by this time Mr Miller had been seriously wounded.

As they struggled to move his body, the Israeli soldiers in their APC inched forward and eventually threw down a stretcher, the court heard. “The Israeli soldiers watched us fumbling to remove James’s body armour and get him back on to the stretcher but still would not help us,” Ms Shah said.

The trial continues.

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