Rights Group: IDF Must Ban Shell That Killed Cameraman in Gaza

Flechette shells globally criticized for wide range which increases likelihood of bystander civilian casualties.

An investigation into the death of a Palestinian cameraman who was killed Wednesday in the Gaza Strip revealed that he had been hit by a Flechette shell fired from an Israel Defense Forces tank, prompting the human rights group B'Tselem to reiterate their demand to discontinue the use of this fatal type of munition.

The Flechette shell explodes in the air and releases thousands of metal darts which disperse in a conical arch three hundred meters long and some ninety meters wide. The use of this type of shell increases the likelihood that someone other than the target will be hit by the shell's darts, thus endangering innocent civilians.

Fadel Shana, 23, was working for the news agency Reuters filming Israeli tanks when he was killed. Two other Palestinian civilians were also killed in the same incident.

In a statement, B'Tselem demanded Thursday that the Military Advocate General "immediately issue instructions to suspend the use of this deplorable form of munition in the Gaza Strip, and launch a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident." The human rights organization maintains that over the past seven years, at least 18 Palestinians were killed by Flechette shells in the Gaza Strip, and at least 11 of them were civilians.

Israel has drawn harsh criticism in the past over its determination to continue using Flechette shells. These shells have been denounced globally due to their dangerously wide range.

In October 2002, human rights groups Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Palestinian Center for Human rights petitioned the High Court of Justice to forbid the IDF from using Flechette shells against Palestinian targets. The court rejected the petition and permitted the shells' continued use.

Palestinian doctors at Gaza's Shifa hospital displayed X-rays of Shana's body, clearly demonstrating the presence of the small metal darts, like those released by the Flechette shells. Some of the darts were lodged in the cameraman's flak jacket, which carried the recognized Press symbols.