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6:48 pm Eastern Time, December 8, 2023

Israeli strikes that killed journalist in south Lebanon appeared deliberate, says fellow journalist

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy

An Agence-France Presse journalist who survived the Israeli attacks in southern Lebanon in October told CNN that it was “hard not to see it as a deliberate attack.”

CNN Forensics suggests that Israeli tank fire killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah and injured six other international journalists in a double attack on October 13, confirming reports from two news organizations and two human rights groups.

AFP and Human Rights Watch say in their reports that the attack was a “deliberate” and targeted attack by Israel on journalists.

In a statement to Reuters, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Richard Hecht said: “We do not attack journalists.” On Friday, the IDF said the incident is still “under review.”

On October 14, Hecht called Abdallah’s death “something tragic,” without directly naming him or acknowledging Israel’s involvement.

Dylan Collins, Lebanon/Syria video coordinator for AFP, told CNN’s Bianna Golodryga that those affected by the incident have been dealing with “pain and exhaustion” ever since.

Collins recounted what began as a “fairly quiet day”, describing how teams of journalists from Reuters and AFP headed towards a plume of smoke after hearing “loud explosions” along the Lebanon-Israel border.

“It seemed like the perfect place to start working, you know? We are exposed to multiple Israeli positions along the border. We were all wearing bulletproof vests and helmets with the press written on the chest. We had three live broadcasts of three international news stories. agencies,” Collins said.
“The Israelis had drones in the air the whole time. And I imagine that with their state-of-the-art surveillance capabilities, they could see our faces, they probably knew which channels we were working for… Around 6:02 that night , we were hit directly… 37 seconds later, we were hit again in almost exactly the same place,” Collins added.

Collins said that although he could not speak on behalf of Human Rights Watch, he could tell what he had witnessed.

“There were two attacks 37 seconds apart, almost in the exact same place against a group of journalists, seven journalists, all wearing press vests and helmets.”
“You could say that maybe if there was a strike you could say it was a mistake, or by accident, it wasn’t his intention. But if it’s two strikes in a row in the exact same place, it’s kind of hard not to see it.” as a deliberate attack,” Collins added.

Collins reiterated that all investigations “pointed to a thin 120 millimeter stabilized tank round that killed Issam Abdallah,” adding that this is the type of ammunition fired by Israeli Merkava tanks.

“I think the evidence is relatively clear in terms of how that munition could have been fired,” Collins added.

The AFP journalist paid tribute to Abdallah, describing him as “the beating heart of the journalism scene” in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

Collins also reported on her AFP colleague Christina Assi, who suffered “devastating” injuries from the beatings that forced her to have a leg amputated.

“She has bled more than any human being should.”

Previous reporting by CNN’s Tamara Qiblawi and Allegra Goodwin

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