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AP video journalist, translator killed in Gaza

BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip – An Associated Press video journalist and a freelance Palestinian translator assisting him were killed in an ordnance explosion Wednesday while working on an assignment about the aftermath about the recent war in the Gaza Strip.

Simone Camilli and Ali Shehda Abu Afash died when ordnance left over from fighting between Israel and Islamic militants blew up as Gazan police engineers were working to neutralize it in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya.

Police said three police engineers were also killed, while four people, including AP photographer Hatem Moussa, were badly injured.

Camilli, an Italian national, had worked for the Associated Press since being hired as a freelancer in Rome in 2005. He relocated to Jerusalem in 2006, and often covered assignments in Gaza.

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 Irbil or Gaza?’ He said, `I’ll go to Gaza.”’

Camilli, 35, is the first foreign journalist killed in the Gaza conflict, which took more than 1,900 Palestinian lives and 67 on the Israeli side. He leaves behind his longtime partner and a 3-year-old daughter.

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.

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