Israeli troops shoot photographer at Gaza crossing

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GAZA, Oct 2 (Reuters) Israeli soldiers shot and wounded a Reuters photographer in Gaza today as he took pictures of Palestinians greeting 29 released prisoners at a border crossing with Israel.

Mohammed Jadallah, a Palestinian, was hit by a bullet that passed through his calf muscle when the crowd surged forward.

An Israeli military spokeswoman in Tel Aviv said soldiers shot in the air towards a large group of Palestinians approaching the barricaded crossing, ''and when they didn't stop, they fired at their legs''.

Jadallah was taken by ambulance to a hospital in the Gaza Strip, where doctors said he was in stable condition but recommended he be transferred to hospital in Jerusalem for treatment of internal bleeding.

''I didn't hear any warning -- just shooting,'' said Jadallah.

He had been ahead of the crowd taking pictures, about 400 metres (yards) from the soldiers stationed in guardposts above an 8-metre high wall at Israel's Erez border terminal.

Dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, Jadallah was not wearing any clothing identifying him as a journalist but carried two cameras.

An Israeli military source familiar with security at the crossing and details of the shooting, said ''everyone knows you are not allowed to run'' towards a passageway leading to the terminal, in an area often under attack by Gaza militants.

''Just because someone is holding a camera doesn't guarantee he doesn't have a suicide belt,'' the source said.

The source said soldier had no choice but to act as he did and ''as is required''.

REUTERS RS MIR RAI2145

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