6:48 pm ET, December 8, 2023
Fellow journalist says Israeli attacks that killed journalist in southern Lebanon appear deliberate
From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy
A journalist from Agence-France Presse who survived Israeli attacks in southern Lebanon in October told CNN that “this cannot be seen as a planned strike.”
AFP and Human Rights Watch said in their reports that the strike was a “deliberate” targeted attack by Israel on journalists.
In a statement to Reuters, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Richard Hecht said: “We are not targeting journalists.” On Friday, the IDF said the incident was still “under review”.
Hecht called Abdullah’s death “a tragic thing” on October 14, without directly naming him or acknowledging Israel’s involvement.
Dylan Collins, AFP’s Lebanon/Syria video coordinator, told CNN’s Bianna Golodryga that victims of the incident were struggling with “grief and exhaustion.”
Collins described what began as a “pretty quiet day” as groups of Reuters and AFP journalists moved into the smoke after hearing “loud noises” along the Lebanon-Israel border.
“You know, it seemed like the perfect place to start working. We were facing several Israeli positions on the border. Everyone was wearing flag jackets, helmets, emblazoned across our chests. We had three live feeds to three international news agencies,” Collins recounted.
“The Israelis had drones in the air the whole time. And you know their modern surveillance capabilities, they could see our faces, they probably knew what channels we were working on… At about 6:02 in the evening, we were hit directly… 37 seconds later. , we were hit again in almost the same spot,” Collins added.
Collins said that while he can’t speak for Human Rights Watch, he can describe what he witnessed.
“It was two strikes 37 seconds apart, a group of journalists in almost the same place, seven journalists all wearing press suits and helmets.”
“You can say maybe if there was a strike it was a mistake, or by accident, they didn’t. But if you have two strikes back in the same spot, it’s hard not to see that. An intentional strike,” Collins added.
Collins reiterated that all investigations “pointed to a thinly stabilized 120-millimeter tank round that killed Issam Abdullah,” adding that it was ammunition fired by Israeli Merkava tanks.
“I think the evidence is relatively clear as to how those ammunition could have been fired,” Collins added.
An AFP journalist paid tribute to Abdullah, describing him as “the heartbeat of the press scene” in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
Collins also provided information about his AFP colleague Christina Assi, who suffered “catastrophic” injuries from the strikes, forcing one of her legs to be amputated.
“She has bled more than any man can.”
Earlier reporting by CNN’s Tamara Kiblavi and Allegra Goodwin