The past seven days have seen the deadliest week for journalists on record. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 15 colleagues have been killed since the beginning of the Israel-Gaza conflict. Three Israeli journalists were reported murdered in the wave of attacks conducted by Hamas that left over 1400 people dead, while a Reuters journalist was killed on Friday reporting from southern Lebanon.
However, the overwhelming number of casualties have come from Gaza. 11 Palestinian journalists are being reported among 2800 civilian deaths as Israel conducts its military response, with the threat of attacks intensifying.
Israel must move swiftly “to investigate killings and attacks on journalists related to coverage of the escalating conflict, notably those suspected to have been committed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF),” said a statement from WAN-IFRA. “At the same time, Israel needs to demonstrate that its security personnel are doing everything possible to avoid journalist deaths, something that – given the extent of destruction and loss of life – so far appears far from the case.”
Numerous journalists have also been reported missing as the ongoing bombardment by the IDF, coupled with evacuation orders for northern Gaza that have seen hundreds of thousands of people displaced, continue to make access to and from many parts of Gaza virtually impossible.
For journalists reporting on the ground in Gaza, the risks are clearly extremely high and the psychological toll is beyond punishing.
“Not only are they doing their jobs trapped under a state of siege, as missiles fall, colleagues are killed and injured, and with limited utilities and power, they and their families are living this conflict every moment of every day – there is simply no respite,” said Andrew Heslop, Executive Director for Press Freedom, speaking on behalf of WAN-IFRA.
“International law clearly not only prohibits the targeting of civilians but calls on belligerent parties to do everything in their power to ensure their actions avoid civilian casualties. The indiscriminate nature of attacks seen so far in Gaza, and the thousands of casualties – amongst them 11 journalists – show Israel is ignoring this and needs to be held to account. That Israel should legitimately seek to defend itself against atrocities committed by Hamas is one thing; doing so at the expense of innocent lives, including journalists who are providing vital coverage from an active conflict zone, is reprehensible.”
In a sign of escalation, journalists across the region are being targeted as the conflict extends. Reuters video journalist Issam Abdallah was killed and six other journalists injured in southern Lebanon on Friday, 13th October when missiles fired from the direction of Israel struck them, according to a Reuters videographer who was also at the scene.
The group of journalists, including from Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse (AFP), were working in an agreed location near Alma al-Shaab, close to the Israel border, where the Israeli military and Lebanese militia Hezbollah have been trading fire in border clashes. The group were clearly distinguishable as press.
“As we approach 2nd November, the UN-designated international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists, we express our solidarity with Palestinian colleagues and call on all journalists covering the conflict in the region to prioritise their safety as best they can at this time of great risk,” said WAN-IFRA. “We call for attacks against the press to cease, greater guarantees of protection for media workers, and all killings to be fully investigated.”
Research from CPJ published in May 2023 showed that over the past 22 years, at least 20 journalists have been killed by the IDF, with no accountability.
Journalist casualties since the beginning of the Israel-Gaza conflict, confirmed as of 17th October (CPJ):
Mohamed Fayez Abu Matar
Ibrahim Mohammad Lafi
Additional resources for journalists covering conflict can be found here.
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