Two reports published on December 7 by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch call for a war crimes investigation against the Hebrew state following two strikes against a group of journalists in Lebanon on October 13.
The strikes “probably constitute a direct attack against civilians that should be investigated as a war crime”, notes Amnesty International, noting that there was no evidence “indicating the presence of combatants or military objectives at the site of the strikes”.
“An Israeli Apache helicopter, and probably an Israeli drone, hovered over them for more than 40 minutes before the first strike,” the report stresses. “Israeli forces had observation towers, ground elements and air assets deployed to closely monitor the border,” the NGO continues. “All this should have provided sufficient information to the Israeli forces that these were journalists and civilians and not a military target.”
The NGO Human Rights Watch agrees, stating that “the two Israeli strikes in Lebanon on October 13, 2023, which killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah and wounded six other journalists, were an apparently deliberate attack on civilians”. The non-governmental organization points out that the journalists were “clearly identifiable as members of the media”.
Dozens of journalists killed in the Middle East since October 7
“Those responsible must be held to account, and it must be clear that journalists and other civilians are not legitimate targets,” said Ramzi Kaiss, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch. “This is not the first time that Israeli forces have deliberately attacked journalists,” he added.
AFP, whose two journalists were wounded, including photographer Christina Assi, 28, who was seriously injured and had her right leg amputated, also investigated. “These seven weeks of investigations, carried out jointly with the British collective of experts and independent investigators Airwars, show that a fin-stabilized 120 mm tank shell, used exclusively by the Israeli army in the region, was the cause of the strike” that killed Issam Abdallah, the French news agency said.
“I know these investigations won’t bring Issam back, I know they won’t help Christina walk again,” said AFP videojournalist Dylan Collins this December 7, at a press conference organized in Beirut by HRW and Amnesty. “But I hope they will at least mark the beginning of a path towards justice and accountability”, added the videojournalist, who was also wounded in the same bombing.
Since the beginning of the conflict between Hamas and the Israeli army, 63 journalists and media professionals have been killed in Palestine, Lebanon and Israel, according to the latest count by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). On November 21, while covering the tensions in southern Lebanon, two journalists from the Lebanese TV station Al-Mayadeen, Farah Omar, aged 25, and Rabih Maamari, aged 39, were killed along with a contributor in an Israeli strike.
In addition, Human Rights Watch had called on supporters of Israel and Palestinian armed groups to suspend their military assistance. Amnesty International regularly calls for a ceasefire and an end to US arms supplies to the Hebrew state. According to an investigation published by Amnesty International on December 5, US weapons have been used by the Israeli army to strike civilians.