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Israeli strike in southern Lebanon kills journalist, wounds several

Reuters news agency confirmed that Issam Abdallah, a videographer, was killed in the attack

At least one journalist has been killed and several others wounded in a shelling attack by Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, according to witnesses and reporters at the scene.

The Reuters news agency confirmed on Friday that Issam Abdallah, a videographer, was killed in the attack.

“We are urgently seeking more information, working with authorities in the region, and supporting Issam’s family and colleagues,” Reuters said in a statement.

Al Jazeera said that cameraperson Elie Brakhya and reporter Carmen Joukhadar were among those wounded.

“The tank shell hit them directly. It was horrible. The situation over there was, I can’t explain, I can’t describe it,” Al Jazeera correspondent Ali Hashem reported from Alma ash-Shaab, who said a team of reporters had been clearly marked as press.

The news outlet AFP has also said that two of its reporters were among those injured. AFP reported that the shelling followed an attempted infiltration of the Israeli border from southern Lebanon by a Palestinian faction, citing a Lebanese security source. The Associated Press said that a nearby vehicle was left charred by the attack, citing a photographer who was present.

Lebanon’s Press Editors’ Syndicate condemned the “targeting” of journalists, describing the killing of Abdallah as a “deliberate crime” in a statement.

Senior Lebanese lawmaker Ali Hassan Khalil also called Abdallah the “ambassador of the south’s image” in a social media post, saying that he had “reported the scene of the Israeli aggression to the world, and he became a martyr for the free press and [his] village of Khiam.”

Over the last few days, armed groups in southern Lebanon have exchanged sporadic fire with Israeli forces, with tensions high as fighting between Israel and the armed Palestinian group Hamas ratchets up and Israel prepares to launch an expected ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Residents of northern Israel and southern Lebanon have watched the cross-border exchanges with trepidation, fearing the possibility of an escalation that could usher in a large-scale conflict between Israel and the formidable Iran-backed group Hezbollah, which called the Israeli strike on Friday a “heinous crime” that would not pass “without an appropriate response”.

“Our lives have stopped,” Marie, a 28-year-old wedding planner from a village in southern Lebanon near Bint Jbeil, previously told Al Jazeera. “We don’t know when they’ll go back to normal. We are wondering, ‘What’s next?’”

Armed with an arsenal of long-range missiles and years of combat experience gained fighting alongside the Assad government in the Syrian civil war, Hezbollah’s involvement would transform the conflict into the two-front war that could stretch the capacity of the Israeli military and usher in greater involvement from regional groups supported by Iran.

Israeli shelling killed three Hezbollah members earlier this week, and Hezbollah hit an Israeli position with an anti-tank missile on Wednesday. But so far, both sides have limited themselves to tit-for-tat responses that have allowed them to avoid the kind of full-blown confrontation that would come with a heavy price.

As an unrelenting wave of Israeli airstrikes continue to hammer Gaza, numerous reporters seeking to cover events there have been killed.

According to press freedom groups and media networks, at least six journalists have been killed in Gaza since Israel began pounding the besieged territory on Saturday after Hamas, which governs the territory, launched a deadly attack on southern Israel.

Saeed al-Taweel, Mohammed Subh and Hisham Alnwajha were killed in an air raid on Tuesday.

Ibrahim Mohammad Lafi and Mohammad Jarghoun, were shot dead while reporting on Saturday, according to the Palestinian press freedom group MADA and the Journalist Support Committee (JSC), a non-profit.

Mohammad el-Salhi was shot dead on the border to the east of Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported on Saturday.

Al Jazeera
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