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Updated: Wed, 13 Aug 2014 10:27:44 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Gaza conflict: Journalist Simone Camilli among 6 killed after botched bomb disposal in Gaza



This photo taken in August, 2014 shows Associated Press video journalist Simone Camilli on a balcony overlooking smoke from Israeli Strikes in Gaza City. Camilli, 35, was killed in an ordnance explosion in the Gaza Strip, on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 together with Palestinian translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash and three members of the Gaza police. Police said four other people were seriously injured, including AP photographer Hatem Moussa. (© AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

This photo taken in August, 2014 shows Associated Press video journalist Simone Camilli on a balcony overlooking smoke from Israeli Strikes in Gaza City. Camilli, 35, was killed in an ordnance explosion in the Gaza Strip, on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 together with Palestinian translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash and three members of the Gaza police. Police said four other people were seriously injured, including AP photographer Hatem Moussa.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

An Associated Press video journalist and a freelance Palestinian translator working with him were killed Wednesday when ordnance left over from Israeli-Hamas fighting exploded as they were reporting on the aftermath of the war in the Gaza Strip.

Simone Camilli and Ali ShehdaAbuAfash died when an unexploded bomb believed to have been dropped in an Israeli airstrike blew up as Gazan police engineers were working to neutralize it in the northern Gaza town of BeitLahiya. 

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In a statement, the Gaza police force said it mourned the deaths of three of its men, identifying them as the head of the local bomb squad, his deputy and another officer. It said an unexploded Israeli shell had detonated.

Four people, including AP photographer HatemMoussa, were badly injured. 

Moussa told a colleague that they were filming the scene when an initial explosion went off. He said he was hit by shrapnel and began to run away when there was a second explosion. The blast knocked him unconscious and he woke up in a hospital. Moussa was later placed into surgery.

Camilli, an Italian national, had worked for The Associated Press since 2005, when he was hired in Rome. He relocated to Jerusalem in 2006, and often covered assignments in Gaza. In recent months, he had been based in Beirut, returning to Gaza after the war broke out last month.

He leaves behind a longtime partner and a 3-year-old daughter in Beirut, as well as his father, Pier Luigi, in Italy.

He is the first foreign journalist killed in the Gaza conflict, which took more than 1,900 Palestinian lives and 67 on the Israeli side.

Abu Afash, a 36-year-old Gaza resident, leaves behind a wife and two daughters, ages 5 and 6.  He often worked with the international media as a translator and news assistant.

Najib Jobain, the AP's chief producer in Gaza, said Camilli was a welcome face in Gaza who loved the story so much that he recently turned down an assignment in Iraq to come to the seaside strip.

"He was my brother. I have known him for almost 10 years. He was so happy to be with me working in Gaza," Jobain said. "He was asked, 'Do you want to go to Erbil or Gaza?' He said, 'I'll go to Gaza.'"

Diaa Hadid, a longtime colleague, said she arrived with Camilli in Jerusalem in 2006 and they became close friends. She described him as a "warm, lovely, funny, chain-smoking guy who could never find his own damned lighter, always up for a story and adventure kind of guy."

"To think he is not here is really just too much," she said.

Less than 12 hours before ceasefire ends

​Meanwhile, with the 72-hour ceasefire set to end at midnight local time, Palestinian negotiators were mulling over an Egyptian proposal to end the month-long Israel-Hamas war.

Since the truce went into effect 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 Wednesday that his team was considering an Egyptian proposal, which was tabled on Tuesday. Egyptian mediators have been 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's 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 Palestinian officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss negotiations with the media. An Israeli government spokesman had no comment on the negotiations.

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