Al Arabiya loses a fine, dedicated journalist in Iraq

DUBAI— A young journalist who worked for the Dubai-based Al Arabiya satellite channel in Baghdad, was among the scores killed on Haifa street when a US Army Apache helicopter gunship fired its rockets at a disabled US armoured vehicle to prevent it from being captured by militants.

By Hani M Bathish

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Published: Mon 13 Sep 2004, 9:56 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:46 PM

This is further evidence that in this ongoing conflict, newsmen are not only mere observers, but hapless and innocent victims as well. Their courage and dedication will never be forgotten.

Mazen Al Tomeizi, a Palestinian from the town of Izna near Hebron in the West Bank, was only 25 years of age when he received fatal wounds while doing a piece on camera near the site of the rocket attack on the armoured vehicle.

The young journalist was not wearing his bulletproof vest at the time and sustained injuries to his back and leg, as did the cameraman.

Upon the request of his ailing mother, the body of Al Tomeizi will be flown to Amman, Jordan, from where it will be taken to the West Bank for burial, according to the news editor of Al Arabiya satellite channel in Dubai, Nabeel Al Khatib, who spoke to Khaleej Times over the telephone on the tragic loss of a fine and dedicated journalist.

“He was on his way to work from his home, which is located near Haifa street. He saw the disabled American armoured vehicle and a Reuters TV crew that was on the scene, and he asked the Reuters crew if he could do a piece on camera. The rocket attack on the armoured vehicle was captured on camera, and it showed Mazen was at least 60 to 80 meters away from the armoured vehicle at the time,” Mr Al Khatib said. He said that shrapnel from the rocket attack pierced Al Tomeizi’s back and leg and he succumbed to his injuries. Al Tomeizi was unmarried.

Asked if there was any response from coalition forces in Iraq to the attack which was carried out in a heavily-populated part of the city, Mr Al Khatib said that the coalition forces, while explaining the purpose for the strike on the armoured vehicle denied there were any civilians in the area, but only terrorists.

Mazen Al Tomeizi was a journalism and media student at Baghdad University and graduated with the start of the US-led war in Iraq in March 2003. His first experience in the field was to the sounds of gunfire and explosions. He joined Al Arabiya in March last year as a television producer.

“A coalition forces spokesperson responded to our questions over the phone and said that a Bradley fighting vehicle had been called in the morning to support a patrol in Haifa street and that the armoured vehicle had struck a booby-trapped car and was disabled.”

“The spokesperson said that four of the armoured vehicle’s crew were also injured and that an Apache helicopter gunship was sent in to destroy the armoured vehicle to prevent it from falling into terrorist hands. The spokesperson said there were no civilians in the area, only terrorists,” Mr Al Khatib said.

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