Reporters Without Borders says ‘unlikely’ that Issam Abdallah and six other journalists were mistaken for combatants.
A Reuters journalist killed in strikes near the Israel-Lebanon border was deliberately targeted along with six other media workers injured in the attacks, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has said.
Video journalist Issam Abdallah, 37, was killed in southern Lebanon on October 13 while covering fighting between Israel’s military and the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah.
Six other journalists, including Al Jazeera cameraperson Elie Brakhia and reporter Carmen Joukhadar, were wounded when two rounds of munitions hit the village of Alma al-Shaab in quick succession.
“Two strikes in the same place in such a short space of time (just over 30 seconds), from the same direction, clearly indicate precise targeting,” RSF said on Sunday, citing the preliminary results of an investigation based on video footage and ballistic analysis.
“It is unlikely that the journalists were mistaken for combatants, especially as they were not hiding: in order to have a clear field of vision, they had been in the open for more than an hour, on the top of a hill. They were wearing helmets and bullet-proof waistcoats marked ‘press’. Their car was also identified as ‘press’ thanks to a marking on the roof, according to witnesses.”
While RSF did not directly attribute responsibility to Israel, the press freedom advocacy organisation said journalists had witnessed Israeli military helicopters near the scene and the strikes had come “from the direction of the Israeli border”.
The Al Jazeera Media Network has accused Israel’s military of deliberately targeting the journalists to silence the media, condemning the attacks as part of a pattern of “repeated atrocities” against journalists.
The Israeli army did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Israel’s military has not acknowledged responsibility for the attacks but a spokesperson previously said officials were “very sorry” for Abdallah’s death and were “looking into it”.
Last week, the wife, son, daughter and grandson of Wael Dahdouh, Al Jazeera Arabic’s bureau chief in Gaza, were killed in an Israeli air strike on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.
Al Jazeera Media Network said in a statement that it condemned the “indiscriminate targeting and killing of innocent civilians in Gaza, which has led to the loss of Wael Al-Dahdouh’s family and countless others.”
Israeli officials earlier this year apologised for killing Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh after admitting there was a “high possibility” she had been struck by an Israeli soldier’s bullet. Israel has declined to pursue charges against any individual over the veteran Palestinian-American reporter’s death.
At least 34 Palestinian journalists have been killed in Israeli air attacks since Hamas’s October 7 attacks on Israel, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip.
At least four Israeli journalists were killed and one retired journalist captured in Hamas’s surprise attack on communities in southern Israel, according to the International Federation of Journalists.