Israel’s Killing of Journalists in Gaza ‘Unparalleled,’ Says Watchdog

The Committee to Protect Journalists—which recorded 68 media professionals killed since October 7—said it is particularly concerned by Israel’s “apparent pattern of targeting journalists and their families.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 12-22-2023 by Common Dreams

Palestinian journalists Muhammad Sobh and Saeed Al-Taweel were killed during their work by Israeli airstrikes on October 10, 2023 in Gaza City, Gaza Photo: Ahmed Shameya/X

Journalists are being slain during Israel’s current assault on Gaza at a rate unseen in modern history—with more killed in the last 10 weeks alone than have been killed in any country in any whole year since records began, the Committee to Protect Journalists revealed on Thursday.

CPJ said that at least 68 media professionals—61 Palestinians, four Israelis, and three Lebanese—have been killed since the October 7 Hamas-led attacks on Israel and the Israeli military’s retaliatory obliteration of the Gaza Strip.

Of particular concern to CPJ is Israel’s “apparent pattern of targeting journalists and their families.”

“In at least one case, a journalist was killed while clearly wearing press insignia in a location where no fighting was taking place,” the group said. “In at least two other cases, journalists reported receiving threats from Israeli officials and IDF officers before their family members were killed.

In October, Al Jazeera reporter and Gaza bureau chief Wael Al-Dahdouh found out during a live broadcast that his wife, son, daughter, and grandson had been killed in an Israeli airstrike.

Additionally, CPJ said 15 journalists have been injured—some seriously, like Agence France-Presse photojournalist Christina Assi, whose legs were blown off while she and a group of journalists were covering cross-border clashes between Israel and the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah.

At least 20 media professionals have also been arrested and others have reported being abused by Israeli troops—including one CNN Türk photojournalist who was assaulted during a live broadcast. Three other journalists are missing.

“The concentration of journalists killed in the Israel-Gaza war is unparalleled in CPJ’s history and underscores how grave the situation is for press on the ground,” CPJ president Jodie Ginsberg said Thursday.

CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program coordinator Sherif Mansour asserted that “with every journalist killed, the war becomes harder to document and to understand.”

Some critics say that’s the point—and the same reason that Israel denies permission for foreign journalists to report from Gaza.

“They don’t want us to see the truth. That’s why they’re taking out the journalists,” U.S. journalist Abby Martin told Middle East Eye earlier this month.

After Israeli forces killed Lebanese Reuters photojournalist Issam Abdallah in an attack that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International called “apparently deliberate,” Ziad Makary, Lebanon’s information minister, asserted that “it is in the military strategy of Israel to kill journalists so that they kill the truth.”

Previous probes—like the investigation into Israeli troops’ 2022 killing of renowned Palestinian American Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh—have confirmed that Israel has deliberately targeted journalists and other civilians in the past.

In May, CPJ published Deadly Pattern, a report that found Israeli troops had killed at least 20 journalists over the past 22 years with utter impunity. While some of the slain journalists have been foreigners—including Italian Associated Press reporter Simone Camilli and British cameraman and filmmaker James Miller—the vast majority of victims have been Palestinian.

Israeli forces have also attacked newsrooms in every major assault on Gaza, including in May 2021 when the 11-story al-Jalaa Tower, which housed offices of Al JazeeraThe Associated Press, and other media outlets, was completely destroyed in an airstrike.

The new CPJ report comes as the death toll from Israel’s 77-day war on Gaza topped 20,000, with more than 50,000 other Palestinians maimed or missing. More than 1.9 million of the besieged enclave’s 2.3 million people have also been forcibly displaced, with most of their homes damaged or destroyed by Israeli bombardment. Gazans are also facing an imminent risk of famine and contagious disease.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

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