Israeli attack in southern Lebanon kills journalist, wounds several others

Two Al Jazeera reporters among group of journalists hit by Israeli artillery strike while reporting in southern Lebanon.

At least one journalist has been killed and six wounded – including two Al Jazeera reporters – in shelling by Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, according to witnesses at the scene.

The Reuters news agency confirmed on Friday that Issam Abdallah, a videographer, was killed in the attack.

“We are urgently seeking more information, working with authorities in the region, and supporting Issam’s family and colleagues,” Reuters said in a statement. Two other Reuters journalists, Thaer Al-Sudani and Maher Nazeh, sustained injuries, according to the statement.

Al Jazeera said cameraperson Elie Brakhia and reporter Carmen Joukhadar were also wounded.

“The tank shell hit them directly. It was horrible. The situation over there was – I can’t explain, I can’t describe it,” Al Jazeera correspondent Ali Hashem reported from Alma al-Shaab, Lebanon, adding that the team of reporters had been clearly marked as press.

Al Jazeera Media Network said in a statement that Israeli forces had “once again attempted to silence the media by targeting journalists”, this time with a missile fired at a clearly marked Al Jazeera team and other reporters in southern Lebanon.

“Israel’s targeting of the Al Jazeera team is a blatant disregard of international safety standards that clearly distinguish the press, as they shelled and burned an Al Jazeera broadcast vehicle despite our crew’s presence alongside other international media in an agreed upon location,” the network said.

“Al Jazeera strongly condemns these repeated atrocities which previously led to the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,” the network said, referring to the shooting of the well-known Palestinian-American reporter by Israeli forces in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank in 2022.

The network conveyed “sincere and heartfelt condolences” to the family of the deceased and wished the wounded a speedy recovery.

Agence France-Presse news agency said two of its reporters were also among those injured.

AFP reported, citing a Lebanese security source, that the shelling followed an attempted infiltration of the Israeli border from southern Lebanon by a Palestinian faction. The Associated Press said a nearby vehicle was left charred by the attack, citing a photographer who was present.

Lebanon’s Press Editors’ Syndicate condemned the “targeting” of journalists and described the killing of Abdallah as a “deliberate crime”.

Soaring tensions

Since the Palestinian group Hamas launched a lightning assault on southern Israel from the besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing at least 1,300 people, Israel has carried out a relentless bombardment of the besieged coastal territory. At least 1,900 people have been killed in the Israeli air raids on Gaza, according to Palestinian authorities.

With Israel expected to launch a ground invasion of Gaza, there are growing fears that the fighting could spread to other fronts in the region. Armed groups in southern Lebanon have exchanged sporadic fire across Israel’s northern border, where clashes this week have already been the deadliest since 2006.

Residents of northern Israel and southern Lebanon have watched the cross-border exchanges with trepidation, fearing the possibility of an escalation that could usher in a large-scale conflict between Israel and the formidable Iran-backed group Hezbollah, which called the Israeli strike on Friday a “heinous crime” that would not pass “without an appropriate response”.

“Our lives have stopped,” Marie, a 28-year-old wedding planner from a village in southern Lebanon near Bint Jbeil, told Al Jazeera. “We don’t know when they’ll go back to normal. We are wondering, ‘What’s next?’”

Hezbollah is armed with an arsenal of long-range missiles and years of combat experience gained fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad’s government in the Syrian war. Its involvement would transform the Israel-Palestine conflict into a two-front war that could stretch the capacity of the Israeli military and usher in greater involvement from regional groups supported by Iran.

Israeli shelling killed three Hezbollah members earlier this week, and Hezbollah hit an Israeli position with an anti-tank missile on Wednesday. But so far, both sides have limited themselves to tit-for-tat responses that have allowed them to avoid the kind of full-blown confrontation that would come with a heavy price.

Journalists killed in Gaza, Israel

At least 10 journalists have been killed in Gaza and Israel since Saturday, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Saeed al-Taweel, Mohammed Subh and Hisham Alnwajha were killed in an Israeli air raid on Tuesday.

Ibrahim Mohammad Lafi and Mohammad Jarghoun were shot while reporting on Saturday, according to the Palestinian press freedom group MADA and the Journalist Support Committee.

Mohammad el-Salhi was shot dead on the border to the east of Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Assaad Shamlakh was killed on Sunday in an Israeli air raid in Sheikh Ijlin, southern Gaza.

Mohammad Fayez Abu Matar, a photojournalist, was killed during an Israeli air raid in Rafah on Wednesday.

Ahmed Shehab was killed in an Israeli air attack that struck his house in Jabaliya on Thursday.

Yaniv Zohar, an Israeli photographer, was killed during the Hamas attack on Kibbutz Nahal Oz.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies