Oct 13 (Reuters) – A Reuters video journalist was killed and six others wounded when rockets fired from Israel hit them in southern Lebanon on Friday, a Reuters videographer at the scene said.
A group of journalists from Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse were working near Alma al-Shab near the Israeli border, where the Israeli army and Lebanese militias and Hezbollah have been firing in border skirmishes.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and a Hezbollah lawmaker blamed Israel.
The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan told a briefing on Friday: “Obviously, we would never want to attack, kill or shoot any journalist doing his job. But you know, we’re in a state of war and things can. Happen.” He also said that the country will investigate.
Izam Abdullah was killed while delivering a live video signal to broadcasters, Reuters said in a statement. The camera was pointed at a hillside when a huge explosion shook the camera, filled the air with smoke and screams were heard.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that our videographer Issam Abdullah has been killed,” Reuters reported.
“We are urgently seeking more information, working with authorities in the region and supporting Issam’s family and colleagues.”
Two other Reuters journalists, Dar al-Sudani and Maher Naseh, were injured in the incident and released from hospital after receiving medical treatment, Reuters reported.
Nazeh said that while Reuters and two other news agencies were filming the missile fire coming from the direction of Israel, one attacked Abdullah, who was sitting on a low stone wall near the rest of the group. Seconds later, another missile struck the team’s used car, which burst into flames.
While other news outlets, including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera, said the bombs were Israeli, Reuters could not establish whether the missiles were actually launched by Israel.
Agence France-Presse injured two of its journalists.
Qatar-sponsored broadcaster Al Jazeera said two of its journalists were injured in the incident and were clearly distinguished as journalists. It blamed Israel for the incident, saying all those behind “this crime” must be held accountable.
“The broadcast vehicle was bombed and burned despite our team being close/side by side with other international media teams at the agreed location,” Al Jazeera said in a statement.
The village of Alma al-Shaab has been the site of repeated clashes between Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian militant group with close ties to Hezbollah, since the outbreak of war further south.
Hamas militants broke out of the Gaza Strip a week ago and launched deadly attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers, prompting a heavy bombardment of Gaza.
In an interview with Reuters, Abdullah’s mother, Fatima Kanso, blamed Israel for her son’s death.
“Israel deliberately killed my son. They were all wearing journalist’s gear. The word ‘press’ was visible. Israel cannot deny this crime,” he added.
Shortly before Abdullah was killed, he posted a photo on social media of him wearing a helmet and a flag jacket with the word “Press” emblazoned on it.
The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Kanso’s comments.
“We always try to mitigate and avoid civilian casualties,” Israel’s UN ambassador Erdoğan told reporters.
“We apologize to them. We are sorry. And we will investigate it. Right now, it’s too early to call what happened there,” he said.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, the peacekeeping unit that patrols Lebanon’s border with Israel, said it was saddened by the news and called for a ceasefire.
“This escalation clearly has the potential to spiral out of control and must be halted,” it said in a statement.
Editing by Mark Benditch and Edward Tobin
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