Firing of Flechette shell that killed Reuters cameraman violates laws of war

Published: 
17 Apr 2008

Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana'a was killed by a Flechette shell. This is the result of B'Tselem's investigation, as well as the results of Shana'a's autopsy, as reported in the media.  B'Tselem demands that the Israeli Army's Judge Advocate General order the immediate cessation of the use of this prohibited weapon in the Gaza Strip, and open a criminal investigation of the event.

The flechette shell is an anti-personnel weapon that is generally fired from a tank. The shell explodes in the air and releases thousands of small metal darts, which disperse in a conical arch three hundred meters long and about ninety meters wide.

Flechette darts found at the site where Shana'a was killed. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem.
Flechette darts found at the site where Shana'a was killed. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem.

According to B'Tselem statistics, at least 18 Palestinians were killed over the past 7 years due to the use of Flechette shells. Of them, 11 did not participate in the hostilities when killed, 2 were taking part in the hostilities when killed, and as to the additional 5, B'Tselem does not know whether they participated in the hostilities.

Circumstances in the Gaza Strip render the use of Flechette shells illegal. This is because to the wide area of dispersal of the darts shot out of the Shell makes its use in populated areas a type of indiscriminate firing which endangers innocent civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law.

B'Tselem is continuing its investigation into other civilian deaths as part of yesterday's events in Juhor a-Dik village, southeast of Gaza City.