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Hamza al-Dahdouh, son of Al-Jazeera correspondent Wael Al-Dahdouh, and his wounded sisters walk inside Al-Aqsa hospital in Gaza on 26 October. Other members of their family were killed. Alamy Stock Photo
Gaza

'A scale of death unknown this century': Over 30 journalists killed in Israel-Hamas war to date

More journalists have been killed in the course of their work in recent weeks in the Middle East than in Ukraine since February 2022, RSF said.

MORE THAN 30 journalists have been killed since the Israel-Hamas war began on 7 October – making it the deadliest start to a conflict in terms of journalists’ deaths so far in the 21st century.

According to a tally by Reporters Without Borders, also known by its French name Reporters sans frontières (RSF), 34 journalists have been killed since the start of the war last month.

Of these people, at least 12 were killed in the course of their work – 10 in Gaza, one in Israel and one in Lebanon. Several other journalists have been injured or are missing.

Overall, more than 9,000 people have died in Palestine, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel – the majority in the initial days of the war.

On Tuesday the RSF filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged war crimes committed against journalists in recent weeks.

Christophe Deloire, RSF Secretary General, said more journalists have been killed in the course of their work in recent weeks in the Middle East than in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February 2022.

“Since 2000, we have not seen a war begin with so much violence against journalists. Israel’s attack on Gaza in response to the massacre committed by Hamas will go down in the history books and in the annals of journalism as one of the cruellest episodes for reporters, as well as for all other civilians,” Deloire said.

The Israeli government should realise that horror does not justify horror. The State of Israel will have to take responsibility before history for the deaths of journalists on a scale unknown in the 21st century.

“We call on the Israeli authorities to end the bombardments, which amount to war crimes. This disastrous toll adds a new blood-coloured stain to an already tragic story.

“More journalists have been killed in the course of their work in two weeks in the Middle East than in Ukraine since February 2022 as a result of the Russian invasion. This is the sad reality of a grim toll,” he added.

Comparison to other wars

The number of journalists killed in the course of their work in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent weeks exceeds the total of 11 killed in connection with their work since the war began in Ukraine, seven of whom were killed during the first month after Russia launched its invasion, RSF said.

The death toll also exceeds the number of reporters killed during the first 20 days of the war in Iraq in 2003, and those killed in Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 in 2001, according to RSF.

To date in the 21st century, long-running wars in Iraq and Syria have seen the highest number of fatalities for journalists overall – with 300 and 282 deaths reported respectively.

a-palestinian-journalist-comforts-his-niece-wounded-in-an-israeli-strike-on-her-family-home-in-nusseirat-refugee-camp-in-a-hospital-in-deir-el-balah-gaza-strip-sunday-oct-22-2023-ap-photoali A Palestinian journalist comforts his niece wounded in an Israeli strike on her family home in Nuseirat refugee camp last month Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) last week told international news organisations Reuters and Agence France Presse it could not guarantee the safety of their journalists working in the Gaza Strip, after the outlets had sought assurances that reporters would not be targeted.

In a letter sent to the two news outlets, the IDF said it is “targeting all Hamas military activity throughout Gaza”, adding that Hamas deliberately puts military operations “in the vicinity of journalists and civilians”.

“Under these circumstances, we cannot guarantee your employees’ safety, and strongly urge you to take all necessary measures for their safety,” the IDF letter concluded.

Many journalists’ relatives have also been killed in recent weeks. The wife, son, daughter and grandson of Wael al-Dahdouh, Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in Gaza, were killed in an Israeli air raid on the Nuseirat refugee camp.

Complaint to the ICC

The RSF complaint, which was filed with the office of the ICC prosecutor on 31 October, concerns eight Palestinian journalists who were killed in bombardments of civilian areas in Gaza by Israel, and an Israeli journalist who was killed on 7 October while covering an attack on his kibbutz by Hamas.

The complaint also refers to two other journalists who were wounded in the course of their work. It cites the deliberate, total or partial, destruction of the premises of more than 50 media outlets in Gaza.

This is RSF’s third complaint to the ICC prosecutor about alleged war crimes against Palestinian journalists in Gaza since 2018.

Deloire said the “scale, seriousness and recurring nature of international crimes targeting journalists, particularly in Gaza, calls for a priority investigation by the ICC prosecutor”.

“We have been calling for this since 2018. The current tragic events demonstrate the extreme urgency of the need for ICC action,” he added.

In a statement, the RSF said the attacks suffered by Palestinian journalists in Gaza “correspond to the international humanitarian law definition of an indiscriminate attack and therefore constitute war crimes under Article 8.2.b. of the Rome Statute”.

“Even if these journalists were the victims of attacks aimed at legitimate military targets, as the Israeli authorities claim, the attacks nevertheless caused manifestly excessive and disproportionate harm to civilians, and still amount to a war crime under this article,” the statement noted.

The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the ICC. It was adopted in Rome on 17 July 1998 and came into effect on 1 July 2002.

Israel is not a member of the ICC and disputes its jurisdiction on the basis that it believes Palestine is not a sovereign state capable of being a party to the Rome Statute.

However, the ICC recently told Reuters it has jurisdiction over potential war crimes carried out by Hamas militants in Israel and Israelis in the Gaza Strip, even though Israel is not a member state.

Names of those killed

Separately, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonprofit organisation which promotes press freedom worldwide, has reported that 33 journalists have been killed since the war began.

The Journal is making efforts to confirm the exact death toll.

In a statement, the CPJ said journalists in Gaza “face particularly high risks as they try to cover the conflict in the face of an Israeli ground assault on Gaza City, devastating Israeli airstrikes, disrupted communications, and extensive power outages”.

The CPJ has compiled the below list of the journalists who have been killed to date, according to its own tally. It also lists the date on which they were killed.

31 October

Imad Al-Wahidi

Al-Wahidi, a media worker and administrator for the Palestinian Authority-run Palestine TV channel, was killed with his family members in an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip, according to a statement issued by the channel, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency WAFA, and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate.

Majed Kashko

Kashko, a media worker and the office director of the Palestinian Authority-run Palestine TV channel, was killed with his family members in an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip, according to a statement issued by the channel, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency WAFA, and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate.

30 October

Nazmi Al-Nadim

Al-Nadim, a deputy director of finance and administration for Palestine TV, was killed with members of his family in an air strike on his home in Zeitoun area, eastern Gaza, according to the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa and Egypt’s state-run Middle East News Agency.

27 October

Yasser Abu Namous

Palestinian journalist Yasser Abu Namous of Al-Sahel media organisation was killed in an air strike on his family home in Khan Yunis, Gaza, according to the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa, Al-Jazeera, and the Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds network.

26 October

Duaa Sharaf

Palestinian journalist Sharaf, host for the Hamas-affiliated Radio Al-Aqsa, was killed with her child in an air strike on her home in the Yarmouk neighbourhood in Gaza, according to Anadolu Agency and Middle East Monitor.

25 October

Saed Al-Halabi

Al-Halabi, a journalist for the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV, was killed in an Israeli air strike in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, the Palestinian press freedom group MADA, and Al-Jazeera.

Ahmed Abu Mhadi

A journalist for the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV, Mhadi was killed in an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and Youm7.

Salma Mkhaimer

Mkhaimer, a freelance journalist, was killed alongside her child in an Israeli air strike in Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the independent Egyptian online newspaper Mada Masr.

23 October

Mohammed Imad Labad

Labad, a journalist for the Al Resalah news website, was killed in an Israeli air strike on the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in Gaza City, according to RT Arabic and the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa.

22 October

Roshdi Sarraj

Sarraj, a journalist and co-founder of Ain Media, a Palestinian company specialising in professional media services, was killed in an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa and Sky News.

20 October

Roee Idan

Israeli journalist Idan was declared dead on 20 October after his body was recovered, according to The Times of Israel and the International Federation of Journalists.

Idan, a photographer for the Israeli newspaper Ynet, was initially reported missing when his wife and daughter were killed in the Hamas attack on 7 October on Kibbutz Kfar Aza. CPJ confirmed that he was working on the day of the attack.

Mohammed Ali

Ali, a journalist from Al-Shabab Radio (Youth Radio), was killed in an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the Cairo-based Al-Dostor newspaper.

19 October

Khalil Abu Aathra

Abu Aathra, a videographer for the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV, was killed along with his brother in an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, as reported by the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the Amman-based news outlet Roya News.

18 October

Sameeh Al-Nady

Al-Nady, a journalist and director for the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV, was killed in an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the Palestinian press agency Safa.

17 October

Mohammad Balousha

Balousha, a journalist and the administrative and financial manager of the local media channel Palestine Today office in Gaza, was killed in an Israeli air strike on the Al-Saftawi neighbourhood in northern Gaza, Anadolu Agency and The Guardian reported.

Issam Bhar

Bhar, a journalist for the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV, was killed in an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, according to TRT Arabia and the Cairo-based Arabic newspaper Shorouk News.

16 October

Abdulhadi Habib

Habib, a journalist who worked for Al-Manara News Agency and HQ News Agency, was killed along with several of his family members when a missile strike hit his house near the Zeitoun neighbourhood, south of Gaza City, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the independent Palestinian news organisation International Middle East Media Center.

14 October

Yousef Maher Dawas

Dawas, a contributing writer for Palestine Chronicle and a writer for We Are Not Numbers (WANN), a youth-led Palestinian nonprofit project, was killed in an Israeli missile strike on his family’s home in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, according to WANN and Palestine Chronicle.

13 October

Salam Mema

Mema, a freelance journalist, was the head of the Women Journalists Committee at the Palestinian Media Assembly, an organisation committed to advancing media work for Palestinian journalists.

Her body was recovered from the rubble three days after her home in the Jabalia refugee camp, situated in the northern Gaza Strip, was hit by an Israeli air strike on 10 October, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa.

Husam Mubarak

Mubarak, a journalist for the Hamas-affiliated Al Aqsa Radio, was killed in an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, according to the Beirut-based press freedom group Skeyes and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate.

Issam Abdallah

Abdallah, a Beirut-based videographer for the Reuters news agency, was killed near the Lebanon border by shelling coming from the direction of Israel. Abdallah and several other journalists were covering the back-and-forth shelling near Alma Al-Shaab in southern Lebanon between Israeli forces and Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group.

12 October

Ahmed Shehab

Shebab, a journalist for Sowt Al-Asra Radio (Radio Voice of the Prisoners), along with his wife and three children, was killed in an Israeli air strike on his house in Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, Palestinian press freedom group MADA, and the London-based news website The New Arab.

11 October

Mohamed Fayez Abu Matar

Abu Matar, a freelance photojournalist, was killed during an Israeli air strike in Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa.

10 October

Saeed al-Taweel

Al-Taweel, editor-in-chief of the Al-Khamsa News website, was killed when Israeli warplanes struck an area housing several media outlets in Gaza City’s Rimal district, according to British newspaper The Independent, Al Jazeera, and the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa.

Mohammed Sobh

Sobh, a photographer from Khabar news agency, was killed when Israeli warplanes struck an area housing several media outlets in Gaza City’s Rimal district, according to British newspaper The Independent, Al Jazeera, and the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa.

Hisham Alnwajha

Alnwajha, a journalist with Khabar news agency, was injured when Israeli warplanes struck an area housing several media outlets in Gaza City’s Rimal district, according to British newspaper The Independent, Al Jazeera, and the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa.

He died of his injuries later that day, according to the Palestinian press freedom group MADA, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, and Palestinian news website AlWatan Voice.

8 October

Assaad Shamlakh

Shamlakh, a freelance journalist, was killed along with nine members of his family in an Israeli air strike on their home in Sheikh Ijlin, a neighbourhood in the southern Gaza Strip, according to the Beirut-based advocacy group The Legal Agenda and BBC Arabic.

7 October

Shai Regev

Regev, who served as an editor for TMI, the gossip and entertainment news section of the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Maariv, was killed during a Hamas attack on the Supernova music festival in southern Israel. Regev’s death was confirmed after she was reported missing for six days, according to Maariv and The Times of Israel.

Ayelet Arnin

Arnin, a 22-year-old news editor with the Israel Broadcasting Corporation Kan, was killed during a Hamas attack on the Supernova music festival in southern Israel, according to The Times of Israel and The Wrap entertainment website.

Yaniv Zohar

Zohar, an Israeli photographer working for the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Israel Hayom, was killed during a Hamas attack on Kibbutz Nahal Oz in southern Israel, along with his wife and two daughters, according to Israel Hayom and Israel National News. Israel Hayom’s editor-in-chief Omer Lachmanovitch told CPJ that Zohar was working on that day.

Mohammad Al-Salhi

Al-Salhi, a photojournalist working for the Fourth Authority news agency, was shot dead near a Palestinian refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa, and the Journalist Support Committee (JSC), a nonprofit which promotes the rights of the media in the Middle East.

Mohammad Jarghoun

Jarghoun, a journalist with Smart Media, was shot while reporting on the conflict in an area to the east of Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip, according to the BBC and UNESCO.

Ibrahim Mohammad Lafi

Lafi, a photographer for Ain Media, was shot and killed at the Gaza Strip’s Erez Crossing into Israel, according to the Palestinian press freedom group MADA, the Beirut-based press freedom group Skeyes, and Al-Jazeera.

Contains reporting from © AFP 2023