A Reuters videographer was killed and six other journalists were wounded on Friday in southern Lebanon when the area they were reporting from was struck by Israeli shelling, according to two colleagues who spoke to the injured journalists in the hospital, as well as an eyewitness. The incident occurred amid escalating tensions between Israel and Hamas, which have been engaged in a deadly war since October 6.
Issam Abdallah, 37, a Beirut-based video journalist, had covered conflicts in Syria and Ukraine and was remembered by his colleagues as a “kind and heartwarming” person. He was filming a barrage of Israeli shelling on a hill, while standing about 50 feet from the other journalists when the strike landed. The battle was in the distance, and there was no indication that fire from Lebanon was coming from anywhere near the journalists.
Reuters said in a statement that it was “deeply saddened” to learn that one of its videographers had been killed in the incident. “We are urgently seeking more information, working with authorities in the region, and supporting Issam’s family and colleagues,” Reuters said.
The news agency said two other Reuters journalists, Thaer Al-Sudani and Maher Nazeh, were also injured in the incident. Al Jazeera separately said that two of its journalists, Elie Brakhya and reporter Carmen Joukhadar, were wounded. The Agence France-Presse news agency confirmed two of its journalists had been injured.
Israel denies targeting journalists
Israel Defense Forces did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post. However, in a statement to CNN, the IDF said it did not target journalists and that it was investigating the incident.
“The IDF operates with precision and intelligence to strike only military targets belonging to terrorist organizations,” the IDF said. “The IDF does not intentionally target journalists or civilians.”
The IDF also accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields and launching rockets from populated areas. “Hamas is responsible for any harm caused to civilians by IDF strikes,” the IDF said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the attack and called for an independent investigation. “Israeli authorities must ensure that their forces do not target journalists and respect their right to work safely,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado said in a statement. “Issam Abdallah’s death is a tragic reminder of the dangers that journalists face while covering conflicts.”
Journalists face increasing risks in covering Israel-Hamas war
Prior to Friday’s incident, at least 10 journalists have been killed since the onset of the war, according to CPJ. Most of them were working in Gaza, where Israeli airstrikes have caused widespread destruction and civilian casualties.
The war has also sparked protests and violence in several countries, including Lebanon, where thousands of people have rallied in support of Palestinians. On Friday, Lebanese protesters clashed with Israeli soldiers near the border fence, throwing stones and firebombs. The IDF said it responded with tear gas and live fire.
Journalists covering the border unrest have faced harassment and intimidation from both sides. On Thursday, a group of Lebanese men attacked an Al Arabiya TV crew and smashed their equipment, accusing them of being pro-Israeli. On Friday, before the shelling incident, Israeli soldiers fired warning shots at a group of journalists who were approaching the border fence.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed its solidarity with the journalists injured in Lebanon and urged all parties to respect international humanitarian law and ensure the safety of media workers. “Journalists are not a target. They are essential workers who risk their lives to inform the public about what is happening on the ground,” IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said in a statement. “We demand an immediate end to these attacks and full accountability for those responsible.”