Blinken urges Israel to finish probe into killing of journalist in Lebanon

Blinken’s comments come after rights groups say Israel should be investigated over possible war crime.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said Israel should release the findings of its review into strikes that killed a journalist and wounded six others in Lebanon [File: Saul Loeb/Pool via AP Photo]

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged Israel to conclude and release the findings of a probe into artillery strikes that killed a journalist and wounded six others in Lebanon.

Blinken said on Thursday that it is “important and appropriate” that Israel thoroughly investigate the October 13 strike in southern Lebanon.

“My understanding is that Israel has initiated such an investigation, and it will be important to see that investigation come to a conclusion and to see the results of the investigation,” the top US diplomat said during a news conference.

Blinked also said he had “extraordinary admiration” for journalists working in dangerous regions around the world.

Blinken’s comments came after separate investigations by Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and the Reuters and AFP news agencies found that an Israeli tank was responsible for the October 13 strikes in southern Lebanon.

The attacks killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah and injured six other journalists, including Al Jazeera cameraperson Elie Brakhia and reporter Carmen Joukhadar.

Israel’s military has said it is reviewing the circumstances of the strikes but has yet to release any findings from its investigations.

HRW said in its report on Thursday that the attacks appeared to be deliberate and, therefore, a war crime.

“Witness accounts and video and photo evidence that Human Rights Watch verified indicate that the journalists were well removed from ongoing hostilities, clearly identifiable as members of the media, and had been stationary for at least 75 minutes before they were hit by two consecutive strikes,” the rights group said.

“Human Rights Watch found no evidence of a military target near the journalists’ location.”

Amnesty said its investigation showed that the Israeli military had likely carried out a “direct attack on civilians” and should be investigated for committing a potential war crime.

At least 63 journalists have been killed since the start of the war in Gaza, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies