Amid swirl of emotions, the vehicle carrying the deceased journalist Ali Shaaban's body could hardly make its way to his southern hometown in Maifadoun for burial, as hundreds of people and journalists across Lebanon gathered to pay their final respects on Tuesday.
Al-Jadeed TV cameraman Ali Shaaban, was shot dead the day before while he was on an assignment with other members of the TV crew in the Wadi Khaled area, north Lebanon, near the border with Syria.
Al-Jadeed reporter, Ali Khreiss, while mourning the loss of his long time friend told Al Arabiya that while they were in the car along the Lebanese-Syrian border in the Lebanese region of Wadi Khaled, heavy gunshots were fired from the Syrian side which killed Shaaban. Khreiss added that he and cameraman Abed al-Azim Khayyat were unable to pull Shaaban out of the car and had to crawl away from the fire without him.
The northern borders have witnessed numerous Syrian violations against Lebanese civilians; however, this is the first time where journalists were the target. Shabaan's colleagues, traumatized from incident, considered the purported target a message addressed to the press and freedom of speech.
Cameraman Abed Khayat called on the government to bear its responsibilities in terms of protecting all the Lebanese to prevent a recurrence of such an incident.
The head of Lebanon’s Photographers' Syndicate Karim aL-Hajj condemned the criminal assault against his colleague, adding that journalists and photographers should not be viewed as part of any conflict.
This time the Lebanese officials took strong exception to the Syrian violations. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman called on the justice ministry to initiate investigation into the incident to ascertain the circumstances of the killing and take necessary judicial proceedings. Prime Minister Najib Mikati also condemned the assault and called for an investigation in order to hold accountable those who responsible.
Lebanese minister AlaaTerro condemned the shooting from the Syrian side and assured that his government has asked the ministry of justice to launch an immediate investigation to uncover the ambiguity surrounding the incident, adding that the government would take necessary diplomatic measures regarding the matter.
The death of Ali Chaaban is the latest in a series of incidents along the increasingly tense Lebanese –Syrian border. Frontier incursions by the Syrian army have led to the death and wounding of several Lebanese citizens in recent months prompting local and international condemnations. However, till now Lebanese authorities have yet to take any serious security measures to avoid further casualties.