Reporter killed during Israeli-Lebanese border clash

New York, August 3, 2010Assaf Abu Rahal, a reporter for the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, was killed today during a border clash between Israeli and Lebanese military forces near the southern town of Al-Adaysseh, according to news reports. 

Abu Rahal, left, was struck by an Israeli shell after a skirmish broke out shortly after noon, news reports said. The fighting was apparently triggered by an Israeli tree-cutting operation along the border, according to news reports. Lebanese authorities claimed Israeli forces crossed the border during the operation, an assertion Israel disputed.

Abu Rahal, 55, covered southern Lebanon for Al-Akhbar for the past four years, reporting extensively on the aftermath of the 2006 conflict between Israeli and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, the newspaper said. He was married and had three children.

“We send our condolences to the family and colleagues of Assaf Abu Rahal,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “His death is a painful reminder of the risks that journalists face every day when they cover conflict zones. We call on the Israeli military to investigate the matter and to take all measures needed to ensure that its operations do not put journalists in harm’s way.”

Today’s fighting was the deadliest along the border since the 2006 conflict, according to news reports. Three Lebanese soldiers and one Israeli officer were killed in today’s clash, according to the BBC. Ali Shoaib, a correspondent for Hezbollah-owned Al-Manar TV, was slightly injured, according to Al-Manar’s website.

Lebanese journalist Layal Najib, 23, a freelance photographer, was killed in the 2006 conflict.