IDF Crew Allegedly Gunned Down Journalists

In October, an Israeli tank crew shelled a gathering of journalists in Lebanon and then proceeded to attack them, spraying machinegun fire for about two minutes.

Tank fire killed 37-year-old Reuters video journalist Issam Abdallah on October 13 during the attack. In the aftermath of Hamas’ attack on Israel, he was reporting on confrontations along the border between Israel and southern Lebanon. During the event, six journalists were hurt.

After being hit by the shells, the reporters were targeted by 0.50 caliber bullets, identical to the Browning machinegun seen on Israel’s Merkava tanks, according to audio recovered from the scene by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO).

Their research indicated that a 0.50 caliber weapon fired from 1.34 kilometers away—the same distance as the tank rounds—was the most probable match. Unfortunately, there was insufficient detail in the audio recordings to identify the exact location of the gunshot. As they were approaching Alma al-Shaab and the Israeli border, a group of journalists became entangled in cross-border shelling. While 28-year-old Agence France-Presse (AFP) photojournalist Christina Assi was seriously injured, the first shell killed Abdallah. In addition to those from Al Jazeera, Reuters and Afp were injured in the event.

Since the event indicates intentional targeting, Al Jazeera’s international communications manager has demanded that the Israeli government disclose its inquiry into the matter. In response to questions from Reuters about the event, the IDF said they are currently formulating a statement. When questioned about TNO’s preliminary results for December, the IDF said they do not intentionally target journalists.

Issam Abdallah died in October, and Thaer Al-Sudani and Maher Nazeh, two journalists, were wounded. Tyre Hospital provided medical treatment to AFP photojournalist Dylan Collins and her colleague Christina Assi. Additionally, two workers of Al-Jazeera TV—reporter Carmen Joukhadar and producer Elie Brakhya—were hurt. There was another AFP journalist and two surviving Reuters reporters who all failed to remember hearing the machine gun fire.

Due to their status as civilians, press members are immune from military action, and assaults on them are thus forbidden by international humanitarian law. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said the event happened in a volatile fighting zone the day after the Reuters report came out.