Simone Camilli, a 35-year-old Italian journalist, was killed Wednesday in an ordnance explosion while reporting from the Gaza strip.
Camilli started his career in 2005 in Rome, as an intern with the Associated Press.
“He was a sponge,” said Derl McCrudden, head of international video news for the Associated Press. “He was one of those guys who learned everything he could about the job.”
One of his first assignments was to portray the world’s sorrow at the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005.
Maria Grazia Murru, currently a senior producer with the AP in Rome, remembers Camilli at the start of his career. “He was passionate about wanting to tell people’s stories and wanted to be where the story was all the time,” she said. “He wanted to learn everything and be the first, he was never happy waiting for images to happen.”
In 2006, Camilli moved to Jerusalem. From that moment on, he grew accustomed to rockets flying overhead, as he embarked on assignments in Israel, Gaza, Iraq, Lebanon and other areas of conflict. Camilli immersed himself in wartime reporting, vividly capturing with his camera both moments of sorrow and joy, colleagues said.
“His video had a signature, an incredible eye for detail and was able to personalize stories and portray human drama,” said Tomislav Skaro, a regional editor of international video for the AP. “He was incredibly calm, mature beyond his age, gentle and the friend that everybody wants to have.”
Camilli’s father, Pierluigi Camilli, said his son loved his work. The senior Camilli is a former journalist himself who currently serves as the mayor of Pitigliano, a small town in Italy, whose nickname is “little Jerusalem.”
“I talked with Simone the other day,” Pierluigi Camilli told Italian media. “I told him to be careful but he said not to worry (…) I’m proud of Simone. He had his work in his blood.” Camilli always wanted to be on the front lines, his father added.
In one of his last multimedia projects, Camilli worked with AP photographer Dan Balilty on a compelling piece depicting the 2009 Israeli bombardment in Gaza. Watch the piece below: