BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) – A group that advocates for press freedom has said that the strikes on a group journalists in southern Lebanon, which killed one of them, were not accidental but rather targeted and that they were clearly identified by the journalists as journalists.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published Sunday preliminary conclusions in an ongoing investigation based on video and witness testimony into two attacks that killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdullah and injured six journalists from Reuters AFP and Al Jazeera while they were reporting clashes along the southern border of Lebanon on October 13.
The first strike was fatal for Abdallah and the second struck a vehicle owned by an Al Jazeera crew, causing injuries to journalists who were standing nearby. The report stated that both strikes came from the direction the Israeli border. However, it did not name Israel directly as the perpetrator.
Jonathan Dagher told The Associated Press on Monday that “we can prove, at the moment, with facts and evidence, that the place where the journalists stood was specifically targeted…and it is clear they were journalists.” Dagher is the Middle East Desk head for RSF. It shows that Issam’s death was not accidental.
Dagher stated that there was not enough evidence to prove the group had been targeted because they were journalists.
The report did note that the journalists were wearing helmets and vests that said “press,” and that the vehicle was also marked as such. It also cited the remaining journalists who stated that they stood in clear sight for an hour, and had seen an Israeli Apache helicopter fly over them before the attacks.
Al Jazeera’s Carmen Joukhadar was injured that day, suffering shrapnel injuries in her arms, legs and hands. She told the AP they had positioned themselves about 3 km (2 miles) from the clashes.
Since the Oct. 7, 2010 attack on southern Israel by Hamas, a militant Palestinian group, that led to a war between Israel and the Gaza Strip blockade.
Joukhadar stated, “Everything was on another hill and nothing near us.” If there had been shelling near us, we would’ve left immediately.
The Lebanese Army accused Israel of attacking a group of journalists.
Israeli officials have stated that they don’t deliberately target journalists.
Heather Carpenter, a spokesperson for Reuters, said the news organization was reviewing the RSF Report and called on “Israeli authorities” to conduct a quick, thorough and transparent investigation into what happened.
Israeli military officials have said that the incident is being reviewed. The military, when asked for comment on the RSF’s report, referred to a statement made by the military on October 15. The statement said that Israeli forces had responded to a Hezbollah anti-tank rocket fired across the border with tank and artillery firing that evening. It also stated that they “suspected an infiltration by terrorists into Israeli territory.” Later, the military received reports that journalists were injured.