ICC confirms investigation into possible crimes against journalists in Gaza

Yasmine Osama Farag , Wednesday 10 Jan 2024

The International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed Wednesday it is investigating possible crimes against journalists during the ongoing Israeli aggression on the besieged Gaza Strip, Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Al Jazeera journalist Wael Dahdouh holds the hand of his son Hamza, who also worked for Al Jazeera and who was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Jan 2024. AP


Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has filed a war crimes complaint with the ICC regarding the deaths of Palestinian journalists killed in the Israeli aggression on the strip.

The office of the ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has also assured that crimes against journalists are included in its investigation into Palestine.

“Today, I confirm the initiation by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court of an investigation respecting the Situation in Palestine. The investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed in the Situation since 13 June 2014, the date to which reference is made in the Referral of the Situation to my Office,” announced the ICC today.

The ongoing Israeli aggression on Gaza has so far resulted in the killing of 106 journalists and media workers.

Moreover, the preliminary investigations of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) showed that at least 79 journalists and media workers were among the more than 24,000 killed since the war began on 7 October.

In either case, it is the single biggest death toll for journalists in a conflict zone for years. By one estimate, one out of every 10 journalists in the strip has already been killed.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed deep concern on Monday regarding the “high toll” of Palestinian journalists who have been killed in the Gaza Strip, following the deaths of two journalists working for Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau, including the son of Al Jazeera journalist Wael Al-Dahdouh, on January 7.

Al-Dahdouh lost his wife, two other children, and a grandson earlier in the war. He was wounded and his cameraman was killed in an Israeli drone strike, while they were reporting from the southern town of Khan Younis in December 2023.

Journalists’ massacre

Israel’s war on Gaza has led to a “massacre of journalists,” The Washington Post said on Wednesday.

The Post said that even before the war, Israel’s critics long bemoaned the relative impunity with which its military acted in the Palestinian territories. To this day, no Israeli soldier or official has suffered any consequences for the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank town of Jenin. Abu Akleh was also a US citizen, yet the Biden administration, while a staunch defender of press freedom worldwide, only paid lip service to the need for accountability.

CPJ confirmed that journalists in Gaza face particularly high risks as they try to cover the conflict during the Israeli ground assault, including devastating Israeli airstrikes, disrupted communications, supply shortages, and extensive power outages.

Furthermore, CPJ is investigating numerous unconfirmed reports of other journalists being killed, missing, detained, hurt, or threatened, and of damage to media offices and journalists’ homes.

“CPJ emphasized that journalists are civilians doing important work during times of crisis and must not be targeted by warring parties,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.

“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, and media facilities, and have fled seeking safety when there is no safe haven or exit,” he added.

 In early December 2023, the International Federation of Journalists said the Israeli war on Gaza is a war beyond compare for media deaths. 

“In a war, you know, a classical war, I can say that in Syria, in Iraq, in ex-Yugoslavia, we didn’t see this kind of massacre,” Anthony Bellanger, secretary-general of the International Federation of Journalists, told the Associated Press.

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