Sunday, December 3, 2023

Journalists’ vehicle explicitly targeted: RSF on killing of Reuters reporter

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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.

According to the ballistic analysis carried out by RSF, the shots came from the east of where the journalists were standing; from the direction of the Israeli border.

Reuters’ 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.

RSF has released a video reconstruction of the “tragedy” that resulted in the death of one journalist and the injury of several others.

The initial findings of the investigation show that the reporters were not collateral victims of the shooting. One of their vehicles, marked “press”, was targeted, and it was also clear that the group stationed next to it was journalists.

Blamed for the incident by various witnesses, the Israeli army immediately declared that it was “sorry” and that it was “looking into it.” 

“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,” the RSF report said.

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.

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.

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