KHIAM, Lebanon (AP) — A Reuters videographer killed in Israeli shelling of southern Lebanon was laid to rest in his hometown Saturday in a funeral procession attended by hundreds of people.
Draped in a Lebanese flag, Issam Abdallah’s body was carried on a stretcher through the streets of the southern town of Khiam, from his family’s home to the local cemetery.
Dozens of journalists and Lebanese lawmakers attended the funeral.
Abdallah was killed Friday evening near the village of Alma al-Shaab in south Lebanon when an Israeli shell landed on a gathering of international journalists covering exchange of fire along the border between Israeli troops and members of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group.
The Lebanese army said in a statement Saturday that Israeli troops fired a shell the day before hitting a civilian car used by journalists killing Abdallah and wounding others. The army said that other areas in south Lebanon at the time were targeted by an Israeli helicopter gunship and artillery, including the outskirts of the villages of Marwaheen, Kfar Chouba, Aita al-Shaab and Odaisseh.
Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry asked Beirut’s mission to the United Nations to file a complaint against Israel over Friday’s shelling, calling it a “flagrant violation and a crime against freedom of opinion and press.” The statement was carried by the state-run National News Agency.
Israeli military spokesperson Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told The Associated Press in Jerusalem on Saturday, “We are aware of the incident with the Reuters journalist and we are looking into it.”
Hecht did not confirm that the journalists had been hit by Israeli shells, but called the incident “tragic,” adding, “we’re very sorry for his death.”
Reuters said in a statement that two of its journalists, Thaer Al-Sudani and Maher Nazeh, were wounded in the same shelling, while Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV said its cameraman Elie Brakhya and reporter Carmen Joukhadar, were wounded as well.
France’s international news agency, Agence France-Presse, said two of its journalists were also wounded. They were identified as photographer Christina Assi, and video journalist Dylan Collins.
AFP reported Saturday that Assi was in need of blood transfusions at the American University Medical Center in Beirut where she was hospitalized.
The Lebanon-Israel border has been witnessing sporadic acts of violence since Saturday’s surprise attack by the militant Palestinian group Hamas on southern Israel.
Journalists from various countries have been flocking to Lebanon to monitor the situation.
The international watchdog group Reporters Without Borders said Saturday that Abdallah, 37, was the seventh journalist to be killed covering the Israel-Hamas war in a week, including six killed in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza that has followed the deadly Oct. 7 offensive by Hamas.
The organization said that Abdallah and the others with him were “clearly identifiable” as journalists “according to several sources.”
Abdallah had worked for Reuters in Beirut for 16 years and had covered other conflicts, including the war in Ukraine.
A week before his death, he had posted a tribute to Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist with the Al Jazeera satellite channel who was killed while covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank, on his social media accounts.