AP journalist among dead in Gaza explosion as ceasefire set to expire

An unexploded munition detonated in Gaza on Wednesday during an attempt to neutralize that device. Six were killed in that explosion, including one of Gaza’s top explosives decommissioning expert and an Associated Press photographer.


Simone Camilli, 35, died Wednesday when Gaza police engineers were neutralizing unexploded ordnance in the Gaza town of Beit Lahiya left over from fighting between Israel and Islamic militants.

Camilli and a translator working with the AP, Ali Shehda Abu Afash, were accompanying the ordnance team on assignment when the explosion occurred. The police said four other people were seriously injured, including AP photographer Hatem Moussa.

Camilli, an Italian national, had worked for The Associated Press since 2005.

Camilli is the first foreign journalist killed over the course of the more than one-month-old conflict in Gaza.

The situation in Gaza is increasingly tense as the current ceasefire agreement, which has held since Sunday, is set to expire at midnight. Both Israeli and Gazan negotiators are mulling an Egyptian ceasefire proposal which appears to have fallen short of both Israeli and Hamas’s demands.

“Palestinian officials told The Associated Press early Wednesday morning that Egypt’s proposal calls for easing parts of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, bringing some relief to the territory,” an AP report read. “But it leaves the key areas of disagreement, including the Islamic militant group Hamas’ demand for a full lifting of the blockade and Israeli calls for Hamas to disarm, to later negotiations”

If the sides accept the proposal it would have a significant impact on Palestinians in Gaza as it would improve the movement of individuals and merchandise to the West Bank, the officials said. Gaza exports and other businesses have been hit hard by restrictions imposed on the territory by Israel and Egypt after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

One of the Palestinian officials who spoke to AP said that according to the Egyptian proposal the blockade would be gradually eased.

It was not immediately clear if either side would accept the deal.


“We would like to see more cross-border freedom, and also to have the question of a Gaza seaport and airport discussed,” a Palestinian negotiator told reporters.

Both sides have offered the other some concessions in peace negotiations. Israel has agreed to extend the blockade in order to allow Palestinian fishermen to travel up to 12 miles away from the Gaza shoreline. Hamas agreed to allow the Palestinian Authority to control the Rafah border crossing into Egypt for the first time since the group came to power in 2007.

With the particulars of a long-term ceasefire proposal apparently requiring a longer negotiating period to settle, Egypt is pushing both parties to agree to the temporary ceasefire.

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Stephen Moore 12:00 AM | February 22, 2024