Mazin's body arrived at the head of a long funeral procession on Wednesday in Ithna, 15km west of Hebron, where he was laid to rest.

 

The 25-year-old journalist was killed in central Baghdad on Sunday when a US Apache helicopter gunship opened fire on  Iraqi civilians gathered around a burning US military vehicle.

 

The incident occurred on Haifa Street, where many Palestinian expatriates live.

 

Mazin, who was working for the al-Arabiya and al-Ikhbariya satellite TV stations, was filming the scene just outside his hotel when the US helicopter strafed  the area with heavy machine-gun fire, killing him and 10 others.

 

Many others, including three journalists, were injured in the attack. 

 

US apology

 

Along with Mazin, 10 others died
in Sunday's Haifa Street carnage

The US military apologised for his death. "I am sorry he lost his life," Major-General Peter Chiarelli, commander of US troops in Baghdad, told Mazin's angry colleagues from Al-Arabiya.

  

"We regret the loss of any innocent civilians and we do everything in our power to limit these losses in combat operations," said Colonel Jim McConville, aviation commander in the 1st Cavalry Division.  

 

Mourners at Mazin's funeral expressed their anger at the US. Many shouted "Death to America" and "We hate America."

 

Speakers underscored the "unmistakable connection between what is happening in Iraq and what is happening in Palestine".

 

"The tanks are the same tanks, the Apaches are the same Apaches, and the terror is the same terror," said Naim al-Tubaizi, head of the Palestinian journalists union.

 

Godfather of terror

 

Iraqis ran for cover to escape
the hail of helicopter gunfire

The head of the local council, Jamal al-Tumaizi, lashed out at the US, calling it "the mother and father of terror".

 

"America is the godfather of terror in Iraq and in Palestine. In Iraq they are slaughtering the Iraqi people wholesale and in Palestine the Bush administration is granting (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon a free rein to murder and maim Palestinians and destroy their homes," he said.

 

"And both the Americans and Israelis commit their horrendous crimes under the rubric of fighting terror, when in reality they are the most diabolical terrorists to ever walk on earth."

 

Mazin's father, Saud al-Tumaizi, said the Americans killed his son "because they didn't want the world to know of their daily carnage in Iraq".

 

Reasons

 

Many Iraqis blame the US for the
present dismal security situation

"They killed him for the same reasons they killed Mazin Da'ana and Tariq Ayyub," he said, referring to two other Palestinian journalists killed by US troops in Iraq last year.

 

Asked what he would tell the American people on the occasion of his son's tragic death, the father said, "America may be the most powerful nation on earth, but it should remember that God is greater. What America is doing to the Iraqis and the Palestinians is not appropriate for a great nation."

 

According to Mazin's brother, Mahmud, Mazin phoned  his mother from Baghdad a few hours before his death, informing her of his plans to come home for wedding. His mother fainted upon learning of his death.

 

Responsible

 

"We hold the Americans fully responsible for this crime"

Mahmud al-Tumaizi,
brother of Mazin

"We hold the Americans fully responsible for this crime. Their criminal indifference to the lives of innocent people, including journalists and cameramen, killed my brother," Mahmud said.

 

Mazin al-Tumaizi graduated just two years ago from the journalism department at the University of Baghdad.

 

The al-Tumaizi family has lost several members to organised Jewish violence, including a three-month baby, Diya al-Tumaizi, who was killed while in his aunt's lap in an ambush by Kach movement supporters in July 2003.

 

The killers remain at large.