What Happened to CNN’s Ben Wedeman?

Published November 2nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

By Nigel Thorpe  

Head of the English Copy Desk 


CNN’s Cairo bureau chief Ben Wedeman has been transferred to Hadassah hospital from Gaza hospital after being shot Tuesday while covering a clash between Palestinians and Israelis near the Karni crossing point between Gaza and Israel. Full details of the incident are just beginning to emerge.  

After initially failing to report the incident on its newscasts, CNN posted a short summary report on their website, CNN.com. CNN reported that “According to CNN producers who witnessed the incident, Wedeman was lying down as Palestinians and Israelis exchanged gunfire when a bullet struck him on his right side, entering near his waist and exiting under his right arm.”  

This “in house” account, however, does not tally with the description given on MBC and Al Jazira satellite channels which both quoted an AFP photographer, who was also caught in the firing, as saying that Israeli tanks fired machine-guns and four shells in the direction of the reporters.”  

An Agence France Presse (AFP) press report, also issued on Tuesday, stated that “Israeli soldiers and tanks fired on journalists” and added that the “US television network (CNN) declined to comment.”  

The press report ended with an Israeli response from Army spokesman, Yarden Vatikay, who claimed that “Israeli forces had opened fire in the area in response to shooting from armed Palestinians. “He did not,” the army spokesman added, “know which side was responsible for the journalist's injury.  

In an interview earlier from his bed in Gaza hospital, published on the CNN website, Wedeman at last had the chance to describe what happened in his own words. The interview confirms that, contrary to the first CNN report, Ben was not shot whilst lying down but when he “casually stood up and was preparing to pick up the camera tripod and walk away from the Israeli position.”  

Ben Wedeman also relates how his first concern was to think “am I paralyzed?” He also added that the fact that he was wearing a bullet-proof vest probably saved his life or, at the very least, limited the severity of his injury. 

The CNN crew, which arrived at the scene noted that the preponderance of the fire came from the Israeli side after the Palestinian militiamen and security forces took cover.  

As quoted in the earlier report, the Israeli Defense Force’s story was that “its troops responded with tank rounds and automatic weapons fire when its outpost was fired on. “  

When he asked himself the question as to would he do it again, Wedeman’s comments were “I don’t regret what I did. I was doing my job. Will I be more  

. Will I be more careful the next time? I’m always careful. In this case, I think I just did what my gut was telling me, what my experience was telling me. But it was unpredictable. Something strange happened there today in terms of the amount of gunfire.” 

The AFP said that human rights workers on the ground in Gaza are checking the reports and hope to find out exactly what happened to the unfortunate Mr. Wedeman. 




© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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