Beirut (AFP) – Lebanon’s army blamed Israel Friday for killing a member of a “journalist team” covering cross-border tensions in the country’s south, as war rages further south between Israel and Gaza-based militants.
On Thursday, “a journalist team of seven people covering news… near the Israeli enemy’s al-Abad site outside the town of Hula, was targeted with machine guns by enemy (Israeli) members, killing one and injuring another,” the Lebanese army said in a statement.
Earlier, peacekeepers with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said in a statement that one person had been killed after civilians were caught in cross-border fire in Lebanon’s south.
Lebanese armed forces asked them for help “for seven individuals stranded near” the border during “a significant exchange of fire”, UNIFIL, said in its statement. A spokesperson confirmed they were all civilians.
“Tragically, one person lost his life during this incident and the others were successfully rescued,” UNIFIL said. They asked the Israeli forces to suspend fire “to facilitate the rescue operation” and they complied, the statement added.
UNIFIL force acts as a buffer between Lebanese and Israeli troops.
Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions have been trading cross-border fire with Israel daily since Hamas launched its massive October 7 assault in southern Israel, killing at least 1,400 people, most of them civilians.
More than 3,700 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed across the Gaza Strip in retaliatory Israeli bombardments, according to figures from its Hamas-run health ministry.
The latest border incident brings to at least 22 the number of people killed in south Lebanon since the Israel-Hamas war began.
Most of them have been combatants, but at least four civilians, including a Reuters journalist, have been killed. At least three people have been killed in Israel.
‘Trapped by gunfire’
Earlier, local Lebanese media had reported that the group included Iranian journalists, although Iranian state TV said later that the Iranian journalists were “alive and healthy” without providing further details.
A Lebanese security official told AFP that the victim had been killed by Israeli fire and that the group had included journalists. The official requested anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to the press.
Shakib Koteish, who heads the municipality of Hula, the village near which the group was stranded, told AFP a Lebanese civilian had been killed “definitely by Israeli fire”.
Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) had earlier said that Israeli forces had “cornered” a group of civilians, including journalists, “close to the town of Hula, and opened fire nearby… to keep them from leaving”.
The civilians were “trapped by the gunfire”, it added, before saying armed forces had managed to rescue them in a separate statement.
On Saturday, Lebanon said that Israel was behind cross-border fire that killed a Reuters journalist and wounded six others near the border, including AFP, Reuters and Al Jazeera staff, the day before.
Israel’s military said at the time it was looking into the circumstances of the fatal strike.
Source : France 24