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Reuters Journo Labelled ‘Press’ Killed by ‘Israeli Missile’ on Lebanon Border

Six other journalists, including from Al Jazeera and AFP, were injured in the attack.
Six other journalists, including from Al Jazeera and AFP, were injured in the attack.

Image Courtesy: AP/PTI

Amid fears of the opening of a second front in the Hamas-Israel war if Iran-funded Lebanese militia group Hezbollah joins the conflict, a Reuters video journalist was killed and six other journalists, including from Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse (AFP), injured in southern Lebanon on Friday. All the journalists were in body armour labelled “press”.

Issam Abdallah was killed while providing a live video signal From the village of Alma Al-Shaab, a site of repeated clashes close to the Israeli border, for broadcasters when “Israeli missiles struck the journalists”, according to a Reuters videographer who was at the scene. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah have been reportedly trading fire.

According to CNN’s geolocations, a Reuters livestream showed smoke rising from the area before a thud is heard.

The camera lens is suddenly covered with dust and a woman is heard screaming in the background. “Oh! god. Oh! god. What’s happening? I can’t feel my legs,” she cries.

AFP journalist Christina Assi was later seen in video lying on the ground with leg wounds.

While other news organisations, including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera, claimed that the missiles were fired by Israel, Reuters said it could not establish whether they were Israeli.

Two other Reuters journalists Thaer Al-Sudani and Maher Nazeh were wounded. According to Nazeh, the news outlets were filming “missile fire coming from the direction of Israel” when one of them struck Abdallah as he was sitting on a low stone wall near the rest of the group. Seconds later, another missile hit a car being used by the journos and setting it aflame.

According to Reuters, the camera was pointed at a hillside when a loud explosion shook the it and filled the air with smoke, and screams were heard.

“We are deeply saddened to learn that our videographer, Issam Abdallah, has been killed,” Reuters said.


“We are urgently seeking more information, working with authorities in the region and supporting Issam’s family and colleagues,” the news agency added.

In an interview with Reuters, Abdallah’s mother Fatima Kanso said, “Israel deliberately killed my son. They were all wearing journalists’ gear and the word ‘press’ was visible. Israel cannot deny this crime.”

Shortly before his death, Abdallah had posted his selfie in a helmet and a flak jacket with the word “press” visible on it.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and a Hezbollah lawmaker blamed Israel as well.

Al Jazeera also blamed Israel for the incident. “The broadcast vehicle was bombed and completely burned despite the presence of our team close to/side by side with the rest of the international media crews in an agreed-upon location,” it said.

Al Jazeera reported that its cameraperson Elie Brakhia and reporter Carmen Joukhadar were also wounded.

“The tank shell hit them directly. It was horrible. The situation over there was—I can’t explain; I can’t describe it,” Al Jazeera correspondent Ali Hashem reported from Alma al-Shaab adding that the team of reporters had been clearly marked as press.

The IDF didn’t immediately comment. Israel’s UN envoy Gilad Erdan said in a briefing on Friday: “Obviously, we would never want to hit or kill or shoot any journalist that is doing its job. But you know, we’re in a state of war. Things might happen.”

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a peacekeeping unit patrolling the Lebanon-Israel border, said that it is saddened by the news. “The potential for this escalation to spiral out of control is clear and it must be halted,” it said in a statement.

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