Reuters videographer allegedly killed by Israeli shelling in Lebanon laid to rest

News agency reportedly demands Israel open investigation into deadly Friday border incident during exchange of fire with Hezbollah

Issam Abdallah, a videographer for the Reuters news agency, poses for a selfie while working in Maras, Turkey, on February 11, 2023. (Issam Abdallah/ Reuters via AP)
Issam Abdallah, a videographer for the Reuters news agency, poses for a selfie while working in Maras, Turkey, on February 11, 2023. (Issam Abdallah/ Reuters via AP)

A Reuters videographer allegedly killed in Israeli shelling of southern Lebanon was laid to rest in his hometown Saturday in a funeral procession attended by hundreds of people.

Draped in a Lebanese flag, Issam Abdallah’s body was carried on a stretcher through the streets of the southern town of Khiam, from his family’s home to the local cemetery.

Dozens of journalists and Lebanese lawmakers attended the funeral.

Abdallah was killed Friday evening near the village of Alma al-Shaab in south Lebanon when an Israeli shell allegedly landed on a gathering of international journalists covering exchange of fire along the border between Israeli troops and members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group.

Reuters has demanded that Israel investigate the incident, the Walla outlet reported Sunday.

The Lebanese army said in a statement Saturday that Israeli troops fired a shell the day before hitting a civilian car used by journalists, killing Abdallah and wounding others. The army said that other areas in south Lebanon at the time were targeted by an Israeli helicopter gunship and artillery, including the outskirts of the villages of Marwaheen, Kfar Chouba, Aita al-Shaab and Odaisseh.

A journalist’s car burns after it was allegedly hit by Israeli shelling in the Alma al-Shaab border village with Israel, south Lebanon, October 13, 2023. (Hassan Ammar/AP)

Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry asked Beirut’s mission to the United Nations to file a complaint against Israel over Friday’s shelling, calling it a “flagrant violation and a crime against freedom of opinion and press.” The statement was carried by the state-run National News Agency.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement Saturday that it responded with tank and artillery fire after a missile was fired from Lebanon by Hezbollah. The incident is under review, the IDF said.

An Israeli military spokesperson, Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, told The Associated Press in Jerusalem earlier Saturday, “We are aware of the incident with the Reuters journalist and we are looking into it.”

Hecht did not confirm that the journalists had been hit by Israeli shells, but called the incident “tragic,” adding that “we’re very sorry for his death.”

Reuters said in a statement that two of its journalists, Thaer Al-Sudani and Maher Nazeh, were wounded in the same shelling, while Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV said its cameraman Elie Brakhya and reporter Carmen Joukhadar were wounded as well.

France’s international news agency, Agence France-Presse, said two of its journalists were also wounded. They were identified as photographer Christina Assi, and video journalist Dylan Collins.

AFP reported Saturday that Assi was in need of blood transfusions at the American University Medical Center in Beirut where she was hospitalized.

UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said Friday that the world body hopes for an investigation into what happened. “Journalists need to be protected and allowed to do their work,” he said.

Smoke rises on hills in the border area of Shebaa farms, after being hit by a rocket fired from southern Lebanon, on October 14, 2023. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

The Lebanon-Israel border has been witnessing sporadic acts of violence since Saturday’s surprise attack by the Palestinian terror group Hamas on southern Israel that killed over 1,300 people in the Jewish state, the vast majority civilians. Alongside a barrage of 5,000 missiles on Israel, over 1,500 Palestinian gunmen breached the border from Gaza into Israel and for hours rampaged murderously through southern regions killing those they found. Over 150 men, women and children were abducted and taken back to Gaza as captives.

The attack provoked war and Israel has responded with intensive airstrikes on Gaza while threatening a land incursion. Israel says it is targeting terrorist infrastructure and all areas where Hamas operates or hides out, while issuing evacuation warnings to civilians in regions it plans to attack.

Iran-proxy Hezbollah and Palestinian operatives in Lebanon have carried out a string of shooting, mortar and rocket attacks on Israel’s norther border in the wake of the Hamas attack.

Journalists from various countries have been flocking to Lebanon to monitor the situation amid concerns that fighting on the northern border could escalate into a major conflict.

The international watchdog group Reporters Without Borders said Saturday that Abdallah, 37, was the seventh journalist to be killed covering the Israel-Hamas war in a week, including six killed in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza that has followed the deadly October 7 offensive by Hamas.

The organization said that Abdallah and the others with him were “clearly identifiable” as journalists “according to several sources.”

Smoke rises after Israeli shelling in the village of Duhaira near the border of Israel, south Lebanon, Oct. 11, 2023. (AP/Hassan Ammar)

Abdallah had worked for Reuters in Beirut for 16 years and had covered other conflicts, including the war in Ukraine.

A week before his death, he had posted a tribute to Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist with the Al Jazeera satellite channel who was killed while covering an Israeli military raid in the West Bank, on his social media accounts.

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