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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 November, 2003, 17:37 GMT
Quest for truth over Gaza death

By John Sweeney
BBC, London

James Miller was a cameraman on the side of the underdog.

He had a great eye, and he used his talents as a warrior against inhumanity wherever he found it: in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe.

James Miller
Israel is investigating Miller's death
On 2 May this year he was shot dead by an Israeli soldier in Rafah, in the occupied Gaza Strip.

James was a friend of mine.

We had worked and played in some of the hottest war zones on the planet, and six months on I still find it impossible to imagine that he is no longer with us.

He was very, very good in a war zone so that to James' friends it seemed incredible that he had been killed in some stupid accident of war.

White flag

The evidence suggests that did not happen.

On the last evening of filming he walked out of a house with his reporter Saira Shah and his fixer Aboud.

It was night. They were seeking parley with an Israeli armoured personnel carrier to gain permission to leave the border hot zone without being shot at.

James was shining a torch onto a white flag.

A first shot rang out. The team froze.

By chance, the team were being filmed by an agency stringer from APTN.

The videotape proves that there is no crossfire.

Night vision

The night was deadly quiet.

Sophy Miller
Sophy Miller says her husband was unlawfully killed
They were wearing helmets and flak jackets littered with TV signs.

They did not look like Islamic terrorists.

The Israeli army has, thanks to the Americans, some of the best night vision technology in the world.

Their kit turns nights into day.

Thirteen seconds later a second shot rings out.

James was shot in the front of his neck by an Israeli bullet and was mortally wounded.

He died soon after.

A criminal investigation by the army into his death is continuing but his widow, Sophy Miller, is adamant.

The Israeli government and army have chosen not to talk to us.

Suspicious deaths

What gives cause for grave concern is that James' is not the only incident in Rafah.

In seven weeks during the war with Iraq three internationals were killed or maimed.

Rachel Corrie, a young American peace activist, was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer.

No Israeli soldier has been charged with misconduct.

A month later British photographer and peace activist Tom Hurndall was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier.

He is all but brain-dead.

Rafah sits on one of the fault lines of the Middle East, bang on the border with Egypt.

The border itself is controlled by the Israelis.

Despite their overwhelming firepower, the Israelis feel vulnerable here.

Palestinians in Rafah dig tunnels to Egypt.

The Israelis say the tunnels are used to smuggle arms, weapons, bombs for Islamic extremists, who are strong in Rafah.

We showed the APTN film of James' shooting to a serving Israeli soldier.

He said: "That's murder".

When Killing is Easy was broadcast on Sunday, 2 November, 2003 at 19:10 GMT on BBC Two.

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