Dangerous Pursuit Of Truth: Gaza Reporters Risking It All

Dangerous Pursuit Of Truth: Gaza Reporters Risking It All
Photo by Hosny Salah /via Pixabay


Naira ElTonsy

Middle East and Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

The communications minister of Israel, Shlomo Karhi, has indefensibly accused four of Gaza’s freelance journalists of prior knowledge about Hamas’s attacks. [1] These journalists have worked with Western media outlets such as Reuters, AP, CNN, and the New York Times, who have denied these accusations, and warned that this puts the journalists in severe danger. [2] Kahri states that “the attack took place while the photographers were present, documenting these horrors, effectively becoming participants in this horrifying event”, as well as a Likud Party MP who added that “the journalists would be added to a list of people marked for assassination because of their participation in the attacks”. [3]

Since the beginning of the most recent conflict, a Palestinian reporter, Mohammed Abu Hasira, had his house in Gaza bombed recently, killing him and 42 members of his family. [4] Another reporter, Mohamed Abu Hatab, was also killed alongside 11 of his family members, while his colleague Salman Al-Bashir nervously broke down into tears after finding out on live TV, tearing off his ‘press’ protective gear claiming it obsolete. [5] Another Al-Jazeera chief correspondent in Gaza, Wael Dahdouh, lost four family members as a result of an airstrike on October 25. [6] On November 5, Somaya Jawabra, a freelance Palestinian journalist, was arrested in the West Bank, and remains in detention seven months pregnant. [7] The list goes on, expanding ever more, day by day.

It has become evident that Israel’s violence has not only implicated innocent civilians, but has also taken an ‘unprecedented toll’ on journalists as well, with the Committee to Protect Journalists (“the CPJ”) and Reporters Without Borders (“the RSF”) estimating that at least 35 press members have died so far. [8] Furthermore, the CPJ titles this as the deadliest period since 1992 for journalists covering conflict, while the RSF alerts that this cannot be ignored. [9] The RSF has called on the International Criminal Court (“the ICC”) to look into the death of eight Palestinian journalists, and refers to “the deliberate, total or partial, destruction of the premises of more than 50 media outlets in Gaza since the war began”, specifically the incident of October 13 where a vehicle marked ‘press’, with journalists stationed around it, was deliberately targeted. [10] Israeli Defence forces (“the IDF”) has the audacity to tell news agencies that they can no longer guarantee the safety of journalists operating in the Gaza Strip, after assuring them that journalists would not be targeted. [11] Sherif Mansour, the CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator, has raised his concerns over the issue, emphasising that “Journalists across the region are making great sacrifices to cover this heart-breaking conflict. Those in Gaza, in particular, have paid, and continue to pay, an unprecedented toll and face exponential threats. Many have lost colleagues, families, media facilities and have fled seeking safety when there is no safe heaven or exit.” [12]

From accusing reporters, to raiding their homes, to killing them, and finally cutting off all their communication networks, it has become clear that Israel is trying to curtail the truth. They are vigorously trying to hide it from the rest of the world, pushing their own narrative by controlling what the international community sees and hears. In today’s digitally connected world, media is critical. We must steer clear of disinformation and lies that enhance propaganda, and open our eyes to what is happening right in front of them. Journalists that are sacrificing their own, their family’s lives, to share the truth with the international community, are not under easy circumstances. It is no surprise that Israeli forces cannot ensure the safety of reporters, as they have repeatedly failed to ensure the survival of civilians, including children and women. This is a call for judicial bodies to take action, to stop the killing of Palestinians.

Sources and Further Reading

[1] Saudi Gazette, (2023, November 10), ‘Israel officials accuse Gaza reporters of knowing about Hamas attacks.’ <Israel officials accuse Gaza reporters of knowing about Hamas attack - Saudi Gazette> accessed 12 November 2023.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] The New Indian Express, (2023, November 8), ‘Gaza journalist, 42 family members killed in Israeli airstrike.’ <Gaza journalist, 42 family members killed in Israeli airstrikes> accessed 12 November 2023. 

[5]  Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] The Conversation, (2023, November 9), ‘More than one journalist per day is dying in the Israel-Gaza conflict. This has to stop.’ <More than one journalist per day is dying in the Israel-Gaza conflict. This has to stop> accessed 12 November 2023.

[8] Astha Rajvanshi, TIME, (2023, November 3), ‘The Israel-Hamas war is taking an unprecedented and deadly toll on journalists.’ <The Israel-Hamas War is Taking an Unprecedented and Deadly Toll on Journalists> accessed 12 November 2023.

[9]  Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] CPJ, (2023, November 10), ‘Journalist casualties in the Israel-Gaza war’, <Journalist casualties in the Israel-Gaza war - Committee to Protect Journalists> accessed 12 November 2023. 

[12] Ibid.