Irvine defies ban for ITV Ramallah report

Irvine: reported tank attack

Middle East correspondent for ITV News, John Irvine, defied an Israeli ban on journalists and got into Ramallah in time to report the tank attack on the West Bank town in the army’s largest military offensive in 20 years.

An Italian freelance photographer, Raffaeli Ciriello, working for Corriere della Serra, was killed by Israeli gun fire as the conflict continued on Wednesday. A French journalist was also injured.

Irvine, cameraman Eugene Campbell, and producer Afnan Taha, found a way into Ramallah after they were held up with other journalists at a roadblock. The area was declared a military zone when 150 tanks occupied Ramallah and Gaza on Tuesday.

After they reached the City Inn Palace Hotel, where a number of US journalists were based, Irvine reported from the roof of the hotel for ITV’s News at Ten. His report showed the camera that was hit by Israeli bullets as the French cameraman jumped to safety behind a nearby wall.

"I’ve been in a couple of sticky situations in Ramallah and Bethlehem, but never anything on that scale," said Irvine. "It was important that we were in there when the story happened and we stayed until we decided it was getting too hot." "The Israeli military didn’t seem to care once we were in there, but they certainly didn’t cut us any slack," he added.

Ciriello was the first foreign journalist to die since the Intifada started 18 months ago.

A statement from the Israeli military confirming his death stressed that the area had been declared a military zone "and closed to journalists as well as civilians".


By Julie Tomlin

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