Another report highlights targeting of journalists in Gaza and West Bank

Mohamed Badereldin, Tuesday 11 Jun 2024

Journalists, repeatedly targeted for dissenting against Israel's atrocities since the onset of the war on Gaza, are again met by assaults, cyber-attacks, hacking, and censorship from Israeli forces and settlers.

Journalists Funeral Gaza
The funeral of two Palestinian journalists killed by Israeli forces in Gaza. courtesy of The Palestine Chronicle


Journalists are facing renewed threats by Israeli forces while carrying out their work in Gaza and the West Bank, according to a recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). 

“Journalists in Gaza are facing exponential risk,” CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Coordinator Sherif Mansour stated.

“But their colleagues in the West Bank and Israel are also facing unprecedented threats, assaults, and intimidation to obstruct their vital work covering this conflict,” he added. 

“CPJ is investigating reports that more than 50 offices in Gaza were damaged, leaving many journalists with no safe place to do their jobs,” the report said. 

Journalists are also lacking personal protective equipment (PPE) to report on the war safely, with the CPJ having “received multiple requests from freelance journalists seeking PPE.” 

However, “delivering this equipment to journalists in the region is difficult,” so they go into an active war zone without proper PPE. 

Targeting family members

Family members of journalists covering the Israeli war in Gaza have also been killed by Israeli forces. 

Yasser Qudih, a Palestinian photojournalist, lost eight family members to an Israeli airstrike that hit his family’s residence in southern Gaza on 13 November. 

Wael Al-Dahdouh, Al Jazeera’s bureau chief for Gaza, also lost several family members in two different Israeli strikes. On 25 October, he lost his wife, son, daughter, and grandson. On 7 January, he lost another son. 

“In Gaza, the risks are acute,” the report noted.

Threatening and harassing journalists

Journalists working for various news and media outlets, including the BBC, Al Jazeera, RT Arabic, and Al-Araby TV, have all reported Israeli forces obstructing their work, according to the report.

It added that Israeli forces have time and again assaulted journalists while reporting on the Israeli war on Gaza.

Most recently, during the annual Jerusalem Day Flag March, Israeli settlers and protestors taking part in the march assaulted Palestinian freelance journalist Saif Kwasmi and Israeli journalist Nir Hasson. 

While covering Israeli forces operating in the village of Jaffna, north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian journalist and freelance photographer Ramez Awad was shot by Israeli gunfire injuring his thigh. 

Journalists have also been threatened by Israeli forces, coercing them to stop their coverage of the Israeli war on Gaza. 

Israeli military officers called Anas Al-Sharif, a reporter and videographer for Al Jazeera Arabic in northern Gaza, on 22 November threatening him and urging him to leave northern Gaza. 

Al-Sharif also received threatening voice notes on WhatsApp disclosing his location. 

Anonymous numbers called journalist Motaz Azaiza on 19-26 November instructing him to abandon his coverage of the Israeli war on Gaza and flee. 

Azaiza dubbed the callers “Israeli No Caller ID person” on a post on X. 

Israeli soldiers pointed their weapons at a team of journalists from the German public broadcaster ARD, who were returning from covering an Israeli settlers attack south of Hebron in the West Bank on 5 November. 

The soldiers brandishing their weapons menacingly questioned the journalists and even called them traitors. 

Christian Limpert, the head of the ARD Tel Aviv studio, stated that this was an attempt to stop international media from reporting on the violent incidents in the West Bank. 

Cyber-attacks, hacking

Several news outlets reporting on the war have also reported being the victims of cyber-attacks attempting to obstruct their work, according to the report. 

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate said its website had been hacked on 11 November, believing it was a targeted cyber-attack because they reported on crimes being committed against Palestinian journalists. 

Plestia Alaqad, a noted Palestinian journalist famous on social media, stated that her account on Instagram had been subjected to several cyber-attacks. Several other Palestinian journalists who use social media have reported similar attacks. 

“These incidents might be politically motivated cyber-attacks aimed at undermining the credibility and work of Palestinian journalists,” according to the report.

Censoring by law force

The Israeli government has also taken several legislative steps to censor wartime reporting and curtail any negative portrayal of the Israeli war on Gaza. 

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi proposed a resolution to cease all state advertising, subscriptions, and other commercial ties with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on 23 November. 

Karhi cited the publication's "defeatist and false propaganda" against Israel during the ongoing hostilities. However, the cabinet ultimately did not approve the proposal.

Israel's security cabinet approved the shutdown of the Lebanon-based broadcaster Al-Mayadeen TV on 12 November. The government cited the emergency regulations passed the previous month that allowed it to close foreign outlets that were deemed a threat to national security.

The Israeli Knesset passed an amendment to the Counter-Terrorism Law, creating a new criminal offense for the "consumption of terrorist materials" on 8 November. 

“The law’s broad terms could potentially be weaponized against journalists,” according to the report.

Gaza journalists pay “highest price”

A separate report by CPJ concluded 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.”

“Since the war in Gaza started, journalists have been paying the highest price – their lives – for their reporting. Without protection, equipment, international presence, communications, or food and water, they are still doing their crucial jobs to tell the world the truth,” said CPJ Programme Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna. 

Of the more than 37,000 Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli forces since the start of the war, 108 were journalists and media workers. 

Israeli forces have also detained 43 journalists since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza. Only 10 have been released, according to another CPJ report. 

“If Israel wants to live up to its self-styled reputation of being the only democracy in the Middle East, it needs to release detained Palestinian journalists and stop using military courts to hold them without evidence,” commented De la Serna. 

On 27 May, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it had filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) over Palestinian journalists killed or injured in Gaza.

RSF said it was asking the ICC's prosecutor to investigate alleged war crimes committed by the Israeli army against at least nine Palestinian reporters since 15 December.

The ICC said in January it was probing potential crimes against journalists since the outbreak of war in Gaza, which has cost the lives of more than 100 reporters.

RSF said it had "reasonable grounds for thinking that some of these journalists were deliberately killed and that the others were the victims of deliberate Israel Defence Force attacks against civilians."

The ICC has been seeking arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar since May 20 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the 7 October attacks on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza, according to a statement.

The court was also seeking warrants for Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and two other top Hamas leaders — Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri, the Al-Qassam Brigades' leader and better known as Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ political leader, the ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan had told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview on Monday.

“Every time a journalist is killed, injured, arrested, or forced to go to exile, we lose fragments of the truth. Those responsible for these casualties face dual trials: one under international law and another before history’s unforgiving gaze,” De la Serna said.

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