ARTICLE 19 remains gravely concerned by the continuing killings, attacks and threats against journalists covering the conflict in Gaza. The unprecedented number of deaths of journalists and media workers, who risk their lives reporting on the conflict, cannot continue. We reiterate our call for an immediate ceasefire to protect all civilians, including journalists and media workers, and for all parties to prioritise the protection of journalists and media workers. All attacks against them must be investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Update: According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, as of 9 January, at least 79 journalists and media workers have been killed since the start of the conflict.
On 7 January, Palestinian journalists Hamza Al-Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya were killed during an Israeli airstrike. Al-Dahdouh was the son of the Al Jazeera bureau chief, who himself has been injured while reporting on the conflict. Both journalists were working for Al Jazeera at the time of their deaths.
It was also reported that two other journalists, Ahmed Al-Burash and Amer Abu Amr, were injured.
ARTICLE 19 urges the International Criminal Court to carry out a thorough investigation into the attacks, and in particular, whether the journalists were targeted.
Saloua Ghazouani, Regional Director for ARTICLE 19 Middle East and North Africa, said:
‘Every day, journalists in Gaza courageously expose themselves at an unimaginable risk while reporting on the harsh realities of the conflict. Each journalist’s death is a personal tragedy for their loved ones, and each attack against them deprives all of us of the critical information about the facts on the ground. The more journalists inside Gaza are killed, injured or attacked, the less vital reporting and first-hand information can reach civilians within Gaza and the outside world. Urgent action is needed to protect them, and guarantee they can continue to carry out their work safely.
‘All crimes against journalists should be independently investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. The International Criminal Court and the United Nations must send a clear message: journalists are not a target. Treating them as such, or the failure to protect them, must carry consequences.’
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, as of 19 December at least 68 journalists and media workers have been killed since the start of the conflict.
On 15 December, Al Jazeera camera operator Samer Abu Daqqa was killed in a drone attack while covering the aftermath of an Israeli strike on a UN school in Khan Yunis, where displaced people have been sheltering. The school was surrounded by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), and according to Al Jazeera, he was unable to be evacuated for treatment. His colleague, Al Jazeera bureau chief Wael Al Dahdouh was also injured in the attack. Al Jazeera network is currently working to refer the death of Samer Abu Daqqa to the International Criminal Court, to be investigated as a possible war crime.
The indiscriminate nature of bombardments across Gaza carries with it unprecedented risks to journalists. At the same time, ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned about the reports of the IDF deliberately targeting journalists. On 16 December, Mohammed Balousha, a journalist for Al Mashhad TV channel, was shot in his leg in Gaza, despite the fact he was wearing a helmet and a press badge. Amnesty International’s investigation into the death of Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah in south Lebanon concluded that the group of journalists was visibly identifiable as press at the time of the attack, and that the Israeli military knew, or should have known, that they were civilians – yet, they fired two separate strikes at them, killing Abdallah and injuring 6 others.
Under international humanitarian law, journalists are considered civilians and cannot be military targets. Attacks on them must be investigated as potential war crimes.
We continue to condemn in the strongest term the all-out assault on freedom of expression in this conflict. We reiterate our urgent call for an immediate ceasefire by all parties to end this unprecedented humanitarian crisis and prevent further loss of civilian lives.