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Multiple investigations determine Israeli tank shells killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which conducted separate reviews, called for Israel to be investigated for war crimes over Abdallah's killing.


Multiple investigations into Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah's death while he was reporting from Lebanon in October have come to similar conclusions: Israeli tanks fired on a group of journalists, with several reports having determined that the attack was "apparently deliberate," even "targeted."

Abdallah, 37, a Lebanese visual journalist with the wire service, was documenting Israeli missile strikes at the Lebanon border with six other journalists on Oct. 13 when they were struck. The journalists — from Al Jazeera, Agence France-Presse and Reuters — were wearing body armor and helmets with the word "PRESS" written in white. AFP journalist Christina Assi was severely injured.

At the time, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Richard Hecht said the military was "very sorry for the journalist's death," without mentioning Abdallah by name, and that the IDF was "looking into" the attacks. The Israeli government has not made any findings public to date.

A Reuters investigation published Thursday found that an Israeli tank crew fired "two shells in quick succession from Israel" at the journalists. The news outlet reviewed video footage and photos from before and after the attack. It also collected evidence from the scene and spoke to 30 experts, investigators and witnesses, it said. Reuters' report does not say the journalists were intentionally targeted.

Other independent investigations also determined that Israel was responsible. Investigators with Amnesty International, after reviewing images and videos, analyzing munition fragments and speaking to witnesses, found that strikes fired from Israel had killed Abdallah and injured the others. The organization said the strikes were "likely a direct attack on civilians that must be investigated as a war crime."

Human Rights Watch also conducted an investigation that reached similar conclusions. In its report, it characterized the Israeli strikes as "apparently deliberate attacks on civilians, which is a war crime."

“The evidence strongly suggests that Israeli forces knew or should have known that the group that they were attacking were journalists,” Ramzi Kaiss, a HRW researcher in Lebanon, said in the report. “This was an unlawful and apparently deliberate attack on a very visible group of journalists.”

A weekslong, joint AFP-Airwars investigation said that the munition used in the strike that killed Abdallah was of Israeli origin and "is not used by any other groups in the region." The attacks, they said, "were deliberate and targeted."

Israel said Friday that the incident is still under review, but that the journalists were in an "active combat zone." Israeli officials have made similar arguments in the past that journalists, or family members of media workers who are killed by IDF strikes, are at fault for staying in their locations.

Reuters described Abdallah as an outstanding, compassionate journalist who was passionate about his work. His violent death has underscored longstanding criticism that Israel targets journalists on purpose, contrary to its claim that it does not.

To date, at least 63 journalists and media workers have been killed since Oct. 7, the vast majority of them Palestinians, according to the Committee to Project Journalists. In Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, journalists have also been threatened, assaulted and detained by Israeli military, police and settlers, the organization said.