RSF condemns Middle East ‘bloody week’ with seven journalists killed

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Killed by Israeli fire . . . Lebanese journalist Issam Abdallah
Killed by Israeli fire . . . Lebanese journalist Issam Abdallah of Reuters news, agency reporting in Ukraine. Image: Democracy Now! screenshot/APR

Pacific Media Watch

Global media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called on Israeli authorities to end military pactices that “violate international law” with the deaths of civilians, including journalists.

This came in the wake of seven journalists being killed by Israeli security forces in the space of a week — six in the besieged Gaza Strip and the seventh in Lebanon.

“We’re stunned by this sad record of seven journalists killed in seven days during this bloody week, as a result of Israel’s indiscriminate response to the horrific massacre committed by Hamas,” said Christophe Deloire, the secretary-general of RSF, in a statement.

On Saturday, 14 October 2023, reporter Issam Abdallah was buried in the Lebanese town of El Khayam, where he was born and grew up.

The videographer was killed the day before while reporting for the British news agency Reuters with several colleagues.

The group of journalists, clearly identifiable according to several sources, was stationed near Alma al Chaab, in southern Lebanon on the border with Israel, to cover the clashes between Israeli military forces and those of the Islamist armed group Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In total, around 10 journalists were killed in the region within a week, including seven in Gaza and Lebanon under Israeli bombardment and fire.

Protest to Israel
These include photojournalists Mohammed Soboh of the Palestinian news agency Khabar, Hisham al-Nawajha of the independent Palestinian news channel Al Khamissa, Ibrahim Lafi of the production company Ain Media, and Mohammad al-Salihi of the Palestinian news agency al-Sulta al-Rabia, as well as Saïd al-Tawil, editor-in-chief of Al Khamissa, and Mohammed Abou Matar, correspondent for Roya News.

“We solemnly call on the Israeli authorities to put an end to military practices that violate international law and result in the deaths of civilians, including journalists,” said RSF’s Deloire.

“RSF calls on the parties involved to implement their obligations to protect journalists during conflicts, and on international institutions to ensure that these protection measures are respected.”

Issam Abdallah, 37, had worked for Reuters in Beirut for 16 years.

A videographer in areas of tension, he has covered the conflict in Ukraine in recent months and, in 2020, the explosion in the port of Beirut.

In his last photo posted on his Instagram account on October 7, the reporter paid tribute to Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist from Al Jazeera and correspondent in Palestine, who was killed by an Israeli sniper in May 2022 while covering an Israeli army raid in Jenin on the West Bank.

Six other journalists were wounded on Friday, October 13: two members of the Reuters team, Thaer Al-Sudani and Maher Nazeh, an image reporter (Dylan Collins), and a photographer (Christina Assi) from Agence France-Presse (AFP), as well as two journalists from the Qatari television channel Al Jazeera, Carmen Jokhadar and cameraman Elie Barkhya.

They were taken to the American University of Beirut hospital. Their lives are out of danger, but Christina Assi was still in intensive care.

The seven journalists killed by Israeli hostilities this month
The seven journalists killed by Israeli hostilities this month. Montage: Reporters Sans Frontières

Pacific Media Watch collaborates with Reporters Without Borders.

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