Veteran foreign correspondents appear divided about whether such tragedies as the shelling deaths of two CBS cameramen in Lebanon Thursday will become more commonplace for journalists covering unconventional wars.
"In a war like that one, I don't see any rules at all," said Keyes Beech, a retired foreign correspondent with 33 years of experience covering wars around the globe for the Chicago Daily News and the Los Angeles Times.
"Even in the best of circumstances, there's always a risk covering a war but, in a situation like that, I don't think you could blame them unless there is some clear evidence that they were after the two Lebanese working for CBS," he said.
The cameramen, both Lebanese working for CBS television, were filming from a car near a village east of Sidon when they were killed in shelling by an Israeli tank.
Boston Globe Associate Editor H.D.S. Greenway, recently returned from a trip to Egypt and Israel, noted that, although such wars are dangerous for all correspondents, they are especially hazardous for those with still or film cameras.
"Cameramen are like bullfighters. They have to work up close," said Greenway, who added that even though those covering wars try to proceed cautiously, "when push comes to shove, you can always be caught off base.
"From the point of view of the Israeli tanker, think of it for a moment. You are frightened, terrified that somebody is going to come at you with a car bomb or something mounted on their shoulder so it looks like an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade]. So you shoot," he said.
"The cameraman holds his camera exactly the same way an RPG man holds his rocket," he said.
However, Charles Mohr, a veteran war correspondent for The New York Times, said that, from news reports, it appears that the Israelis should investigate why two journalists were killed in a car marked for the press.
"It is a well-established rule of international law that you don't shoot at unarmed civilians," he said. "I mean you don't do it just because you're nervous."