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Israel-Hamas war “one of the deadliest ever for the media”

At least 103 journalists have been killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza in the past five months,  Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says in a report describing the Israel – Hamas war as “one of the deadliest ever wars for the media”. At least 22 of these journalists were killed in the course of their work, RSF says it has so far established.

Israel’s barring international journalists from entering Gaza means that world media depends heavily on Palestinian journalists for coverage of the war. International Press Institute and other media organisations have demanded that Israel allows international journalists to enter Gaza and report freely from the territory.

“Journalists working for TV, radio, print media and multimedia, photographers and camera operators, 91 men and 12 women journalists of all ages, all Palestinians, are among this war’s victims. They were killed in different places in Gaza, from the north to the south and including Khan Yunis (city in southern part of the Gaza Strip), showing how no part of the Gaza Strip offers a refuge for journalists”, the RSF report says.

 RSF says it has information showing at least 22 of these journalists were killed in the course of their work or because of their work. 

“Many of them were reporting in the field and were clearly identifiable as journalists. Others were killed by strikes that specifically targeted their homes. RSF has twice referred the crimes committed against journalists by Israel to the International Criminal Court.”

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“If the numbers show anything, it is that since 7 October, no place in Gaza is safe, no journalist in Gaza is spared, and the massacre has not stopped. We reiterate our urgent appeal to protect journalists in Gaza”, says Christophe Deloire, RSF secretary-general.

RSF reports that the first three months of the war were the deadliest for the media. Nearly 80% of the 103 media fatalities occurred between 7 October and 31 December. 

Gaza’s reporters have lived with an “omnipresent danger of death” since 7 October,  RSF quotes correspondent Ola al-Zaanoun, who was recently evacuated from Gaza.

 RSF says that journalists have been killed everywhere: in their offices, in the field, in their homes, in refugee camps, outside hospitals and in their cars. 

“Nowhere is safe for media workers in the besieged enclave. While the Israeli incursions initially focused on Gaza City in the north during the first two months, they also killed at least five journalists in Rafah.”.

US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has demanded swift, transparent, and independent investigations into all journalist killings by the IDF and has repeatedly cautioned warring parties that journalists are civilians under international law and deliberately targeting them is a war crime. 

Similarly, CPJ has said that Israel must comply with the International Court of Justice’s recent order to ensure the preservation of evidence, a critical function of journalists, as they are frontline witnesses whose work has previously been considered as evidence in tribunals.

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