Israeli strikes kill 111 Gazan journalists, but they still speak up
Paris-based organisation Reporters Without Borders forewarns that “journalism is in the process of being eradicated in the Gaza Strip
The only way the world would know about the catastrophe transpiring in war-ravaged Gaza is through journalists. And for Israel to not let that happen seems categorically an agenda.
Debatably violating the international convention on war (Geneva Convention, Article 19) with regard to bombing hospital and civic amenities, Israel has been strategically destroying hospital facilities and targeting staff, arguing that medical infrastructure serve as Hamas’ establishment too, so as to finish the scope of existence of Hamas, and perhaps all of Gaza as well.
In the process, among those who paid with their lives were journalists, as they and their families are increasingly being targeted, attacked, and eliminated by Israeli forces.
Paris-based organisation Reporters Without Borders forewarns that “journalism is in the process of being eradicated in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israel’s refusal to heed calls to protect media personnel”.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has highlighted that there is a “pattern of journalists in Gaza reporting receiving threats, and subsequently, their family members being killed”.
An Israeli airstrike claimed eight members of Gaza-based independent photojournalist Yasser Qudih’s family after a report by HonestReporting, a pro-Israel pressure group, suggested that Qudih and three other Gaza-based photographers had prior information of Hamas’ attack on Israel.
Although HonestReporting later withdrew its accusations, the report prompted the Israeli government to express that photojournalists were accomplices in "crimes against humanity", posting on X with a picture: “Breaking: AP, CNN, NY Times, and Reuters had journalists embedded with Hamas terrorists on October 7 massacre.”
The media outlets concerned have denied the claim. Further, after multiple threats to Al Jazeera journalist Anas Al-Sharif, his 90-year-old father was killed in his home in an Israeli airstrike.
Among the most recent deaths are that of Al Jazeera and AFP journalists Hamza Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya, both in their 20s, in Khan Younis. Their car was struck by a missile when they were travelling around al-Mawasi, an area southwest of Gaza that is believed to be safe. Hamza was the eldest son of Al Jazeera’s Arabic bureau chief in Gaza, Wael Dahdouh.
On 25 October 2023, after an Israeli raid struck a house in a refugee camp where Hamza's family was sheltered, his mother, 15-year-old brother, 7-year-old sister and an infant nephew were killed. But his spirit never gave in. As per his colleague, what kept Hamza going was the motivation from his bereavement. He continued to cover the war undeterred, like his father.
In mid-December, Wael Dahdouh survived major injury in an attack that killed his colleague Samer Abudaqa, who after over five hours, bled to death as Israeli forces reportedly prevented ambulances and rescue workers from reaching him.
The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate has documented the killing of at least 102 journalists and injuries to 71 more by Israeli forces since the war broke out on 7 October 2023 (the number of dead, according to the Gaza health ministry, has since gone up to 111).
Israel, however, denies that it targets journalists, and insists that it only targets Hamas.
In light of these events, the International Criminal Court is set to investigate crimes against journalists in Gaza after Reporters Without Borders filed two complaints on the killing of press personnel.
Apart from journalists, medical staff are also understood to be targeted by Israeli forces. Besides destroying hospitals and healthcare infrastructure, more than 600 medical staff and patients are currently missing. Many members of medical aid agencies were forced to evacuate hospitals over safety concerns.
Reported by Kavya Dubey