The Deadliest Days for Journalists in War Zones — Global Issues

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  • by Thalif Deen (united nations)
  • Inter Press Service

As of April 26, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), preliminary investigations have shown at least 97 journalists and media workers were among the more than 35,000 killed since the war began on October 7—with more than 34,000 Palestinian deaths in Gaza and the West Bank and 1,200 deaths in Israel.

And, according to a count by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF), at least 103 journalists have been killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza in the past five months, “one of the deadliest ever wars for the media” compiled by RSF.

Christophe Deloire RSF secretary-general, said these 103 journalists are not numbers, they are 103 voices that Israel has silenced, 103 fewer witnesses of the catastrophe unfolding in Palestine, 103 lives extinguished”.

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”, he added.

CPJ said it is investigating all reports of journalists and media workers killed, injured, or missing in the war, “which has led to the deadliest period for journalists since CPJ began gathering data in 1992.”

Dr. Simon Adams, President of the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT), which works with torture survivors and human rights defenders around the world, told IPS the more egregious the atrocity, the greater the necessity to bury the truth under the rubble of airstrikes or hide it away in a dark prison.

Israel is targeting journalists because it fears their ability to expose the horrors unfolding in Gaza, he said.

“For far too long Israel has been able to operate with impunity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and this has included occasionally killing reporters, like the Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, in 2022”.

But since 7 October, Dr Adams pointed out, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have elevated this to a whole new level: routinely bombing, shooting or arresting journalists just for reporting from the frontlines and bearing witness to war crimes.

He said far too many of these deaths have resulted from precision airstrikes on reporters who are clearly identified as such.

“With almost 100 journalists and media workers now dead, to claim these deaths are accidental is not only incredulous, it is insulting to the memory of professionals who lived their lives in service of truth and accuracy,” said Dr Adams whose organization has a number of refugee clients who are former journalists and have been arrested and persecuted in their home countries.

These cases, he said, should all be reported to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and those responsible should be held accountable. Being a journalist is not a crime, but systematically killing them is.

And he added: “World Press Freedom Day (May 3) should be celebrated with a black armband this year.”

“Since the Israel-Gaza war began, journalists have been paying the highest price— their lives—to defend our right to the truth. Each time a journalist dies or is injured, we lose a fragment of that truth,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna.

“Journalists are civilians who are protected by international humanitarian law in times of conflict. Those responsible for their deaths face dual trials: one under international law and another before history’s unforgiving gaze.”

Expressing deep concern last month, the Human Rights Council-appointed experts* highlighted the alarming toll on journalists and media workers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in Gaza.

“We are alarmed at the extraordinarily high numbers of journalists and media workers who have been killed, attacked, injured and detained in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in Gaza, in recent months blatantly disregarding international law,” the experts said.

They said they noted “disturbing reports” of attacks against media workers despite being clearly identifiable in jackets, helmets and vehicles marked “press”, seemingly indicating a “deliberate strategy” by Israeli forces to obstruct and silence critical reporting.

Since 7 October, by their count, 122 journalists and media workers have lost their lives in the Gaza Strip, with many others sustaining injuries.

Four Israeli journalists were killed by Hamas on 7 October, when fighters from the extremist group which controls Gaza and other Palestinian militants, attacked Israeli communities in southern Israel.

“We condemn all killings, threats and attacks on journalists and call on all parties to the conflict to protect them,” they said.

Dozens of Palestinian journalists have also been detained by Israeli forces in both Gaza and in the West Bank where harassment, intimidation and attacks on journalists have increased since the Hamas terror attacks.

According to the Paris-based UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, more than 1,600 journalists have been killed since 1993.

Other threats against journalists, online and off-line, continue to grow, especially in non-conflict zones.

It is at a record high, while online violence – particularly against women journalists – and harassment spurs on self-censorship and, in some cases, physical attacks.

Journalists have also increasingly been attacked while covering protests, by various actors, including both security forces and protest participants.

Numerous reports and studies confirm that threats inordinately affect women journalists and those who represent minority groups, said UNESCO.

*The UN experts include: Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of freedom of opinion and expression; Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Ben Saul, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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by Thalif Deen (united nations) Wednesday, May 01, 2024 Inter Press Service UNITED NATIONS, May 01 (IPS) – World Press Freedom Day 2024. The seven- month-long war in Gaza is perhaps the only military conflict in contemporary history which has claimed the lives of over 100 journalists, including targeted killings. As of April 26, according to…

by Thalif Deen (united nations) Wednesday, May 01, 2024 Inter Press Service UNITED NATIONS, May 01 (IPS) – World Press Freedom Day 2024. The seven- month-long war in Gaza is perhaps the only military conflict in contemporary history which has claimed the lives of over 100 journalists, including targeted killings. As of April 26, according to…