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22 Dec, 2023 21:37

NGO condemns ‘unparalleled’ killing of journalists in Gaza

Israel has reportedly killed more members of the press in the last ten weeks than any other country has in a year
NGO condemns ‘unparalleled’ killing of journalists in Gaza

Reporters covering Israel’s war on Gaza are being killed at an unprecedented rate, press freedom NGO the Committee to Protect Journalists declared on Thursday, revealing that more journalists were killed during the first ten weeks of the conflict than in a single country in any year since it began keeping records in 1992.

At least 68 media professionals have been killed since October 7, when the war began in retaliation for Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel – 61 of them Palestinian, four Israeli, and three Lebanese – while another 15 have been injured, including one photojournalist from AFP whose legs were blown off while working.

The CPJ denounced what it called an “apparent pattern of targeting journalists and their families” by Israel, describing one case in which “a journalist was killed while clearly wearing press insignia in a location where no fighting was taking place,” as well as two instances in which Israeli officials or Israel Defense Forces officers reached out to threaten journalists before their family members were killed.

At least 20 journalists have been arrested by Israeli authorities, and three more are missing, while several more have reported abuse from IDF troops – one during a live broadcast on CNN. 

A reporter for Dubai-based Al Mashahd TV said he was deliberately targeted and shot by an Israeli sniper last week despite being clearly marked as press in retaliation for breaking the story that four premature babies had been left behind to die and decompose at al-Nasr Children’s Hospital in Gaza after the IDF forced staff to evacuate the facility without ambulances. 

Israel told Reuters and AFP in October that it would not guarantee reporters’ safety in Gaza. Critics have interpreted its refusal to authorize foreign reporters to work in Gaza as an effort to hide the human cost of its activities there. 

Over 20,000 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and 50,000 more are seriously injured or missing, while over 1.9 million of the enclave’s 2.3 million inhabitants have been forcibly displaced by Israeli bombs.

Israel was internationally condemned last year over the IDF’s shooting of Palestinian-American al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, with West Jerusalem initially denying responsibility and later claiming the killing had been accidental. Multiple independent investigations, however, found she had been deliberately targeted by an Israeli sniper despite her clearly marked press vest and helmet. 

The CPJ has repeatedly condemned Israel’s treatment of the press, most recently in a report published in May that found IDF troops had killed at least 20 journalists in the preceding 22 years with no apparent consequences.