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Pacific Media Watch

The toll of four months of war in Gaza on journalism is “nothing short of horrifying” — Palestinian journalists killed, wounded, and prevented from working without any possibility of safe refuge, reports he Paris-based global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

RSF has strongly condemned the “eradication of journalism and the right to information” in Gaza by the Israeli army, and has called on states and international organisations to increase pressure on Israel to “immediately cease this carnage”.

In 124 days of conflict, at least 84 journalists have been killed in Gaza, including at least 20 in the course of their journalistic work or in connection with it, according to RSF statistics.

Journalists are being decimated as the days of this interminable war go by, through incessant Israeli strikes from the north to the south of the Gaza Strip, the watchdog said.

Journalists who had survived these four months were “living a daily hell” — in inhumane conditions, they suffered shortages of all kinds, particularly of equipment, as well as regular media blackouts, RSF said.

“In four months of conflict, Palestinian journalism has been decimated by Israeli armed forces with complete impunity, with a staggering death toll of more than 84 journalists killed — at least 20 in the line of duty,” said RSF’s Middle East desk in their statement.

“After filing two complaints with the International Criminal Court and making repeated appeals to States and international organisations, RSF is once again urging the UN Security Council to immediately enforce Resolution 2222 (2015) on the protection of journalists.

Journalists trapped in Rafah
Journalists in Gaza have no way out or any place of safe refuge. Forced to flee to the south of the enclave since October 7, the vast majority have taken refuge in Rafah, where the crossing point with Egypt is still closed and where an invasion of the city could lead to a new bloodbath.

Rafah was described by Israel as a “security zone” at the start of the conflict. Despite RSF’s calls for the Rafah gate to be opened, the Israeli authorities continue to prevent Gazan journalists from leaving and to block access to the enclave for foreign journalists.

As Gaza killings rise, so does the toll on Palestinian journalists.   Video: Al Jazeera

A chilling toll
According to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS), about 50 local and international media outlets in Gaza have been totally or partially destroyed by the Israeli army since October 7, in addition to the appalling death toll.

RSF filed two complaints with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 31 October and 22 December 2023 in connection with the killings of journalists and the destruction of media outlets.

In the aftermath of the killings of independent videographer Moustafa Thuraya and Al Jazeera journalist Hamza Dahdouh on January 7, RSF obtained a decision from the ICC prosecutor to include crimes against journalists in its investigation into the situation in Palestine.

Two days later, RSF called on the UN Security Council to urgently address Israel’s violations of Resolution 2222 on the protection of journalists.

The struggle of journalists in the field
Against this terrifying backdrop, Palestinian reporters in Gaza are showing untold courage in continuing to report on the war.

Most have lost loved ones. Forced to move, they live in tents, with no electricity and very little food or water.

Wounded journalists have very limited access to medical care. In partnership with Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ), RSF has been providing grants to Gazan journalists since the start of the war to support their reporting work.

Pacific Media Watch collaborates with Reporters Without Borders.

A man visits the spot where Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed
A man visits the spot where Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli snipers on 11 May 2022 while covering an Israeli raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the north of the occupied West Bank. Image: AJ/RSF

Al Jazeera rejects Israeli forces’ attempt to justify crimes against journalists

Al Jazeera Media Network has rejected the Israeli occupation forces’ attempt to justify the killing and targeting of journalists.

In a statement this week, the network has condemned the accusations against its journalists and recalled Israel’s “long record of lies and fabrication of evidence through which it seeks to hide its heinous crimes”.

The statement continued:

“At a time when its correspondents and field crews are making great sacrifices to cover what is happening in Gaza, Al Jazeera’s employment policies stipulate that employees are not to engage in any political affiliations that may affect their professionalism, and to adhere to the controls and directives contained in the Network’s code of ethics and code of conduct.

“Al Jazeera ensures that all its journalists and correspondents adhere to the editorial standards.

“The network recalls the systematic targeting of Al Jazeera by the Israeli authorities, which includes:

  • the bombing of its office in Gaza twice,
  • the assassination of its correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh,
  • the killing of colleagues Samer Abu Daqa and Hamza Al-Dahdouh,
  • the deliberate targeting of a number of Al Jazeera journalists and their family members, and
  • the arrest and intimidation of its correspondents in the field.

“Given Israel’s unprecedented campaign against journalists, Al Jazeera urges media outlets worldwide to exercise the utmost caution and responsibility when headlining Israel’s justifications for its crimes against journalists in Gaza.”

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