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Nearly a hundred journalists killed since the start of the war

Photo: Hatem Ali Associated Press A relative mourns over the body of Palestinian journalist Akram Al-Shafi'i, killed in the line of duty earlier this year during an Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip.

Étienne Paré

February 20, 2024

  • Middle East

More than 80 journalists have lost their lives since the start of the Israeli military offensive in October, including at least twenty in the line of duty. Almost all of them were of Palestinian origin, as foreign correspondents do not have access to the Gaza Strip. And for good reason, no war had ever been so dangerous, and complicated, to cover for the media around the world.

Referring to figures published last week by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the French site Mediapart was able to trace the journey of 81 journalists killed in Gaza or southern Lebanon since the start of the war, on October 7, after the attack perpetrated by Hamas on Israeli soil.

Among them: Alaa Al-Hams, journalist for the Palestinian agency SND, who announced that she had been seriously injured in December after bombings destroyed her home and killed several members of her family. The 35-year-old died a few days ago from her injuries, which could not be treated in hospital due to lack of medication.

The Mediapart article puts a face to most of the journalists who have died since the start of the Israeli counter-offensive on Gaza, which has so far caused around 30,000 Palestinian victims, according to Hamas. As this French media, very left-wing and resolutely pro-Palestinian, also points out, no war has proven so dangerous in such a short time for the journalistic profession.

“More than three-quarters of the 99 journalists and media workers killed worldwide in 2023 died in the war between Israel and Gaza, the majority of them Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza. In three months, the conflict has claimed the lives of more journalists than in an entire year in a single country previously,” reads the CPJ report.

Much more at risk than Ukraine

According to this organization, based in New York and financed by private donations, the number of journalists killed in 2023 around the world would have decreased compared to the previous year, had it not been for the resumption of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

In Mexico, for example, where journalists are regularly the target of violence in the fight against drug traffickers, the number of journalists murdered has fallen from a record 13 in 2022 to 2 l last year. The conflict in Ukraine has led to the deaths of 17 journalists in two years, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“I wouldn’t say that journalists in Ukraine are more protected. If the Russians advanced, there would surely be more deaths. But in fact, the front line hasn't moved much since the beginning, so journalists can take precautions. All this is impossible in the Gaza Strip, where there are no safe places for journalists,” explains Aimé-Jules Bizimana, professor of communications at the University of Quebec in Outaouais.

At risk like all other civilians

Most of Mr. Bizimana's research deals with journalistic work in wartime. He cannot recall an armed conflict that was as difficult for the world's media to cover as the one currently taking place in the Middle East.

“Whether it was Ukraine or Iraq, there were always foreign correspondents on the ground. But not this time in Gaza. Even when humanitarian aid was delivered, the Israeli army did not let the foreign press enter Gaza. This is why the images that come from the field come almost exclusively from Palestinian journalists. And they are at risk, just like any Palestinian civilian, of being killed in fighting. If they do not have another passport, they cannot leave the territory. The Israeli army does not offer additional protection to Palestinian journalists,” lamented Aimé-JulesBizimana in an interview with Devoir.

Among the 84 journalists killed in Gaza in 2023 recorded by Reporters Without Borders, most were not killed because of their profession. The organization, which defends press freedom throughout the world, estimates the number of journalists who have died in the line of duty to be “at least 20”.

The figures from Reporters Without Borders and CPJ are relatively similar, even if the methodology differs. Other organizations, such as the International Federation of Journalists or the Palestinian Journalists Union (SPJ), report much heavier tolls. The SPJ speaks of 116 journalists killed.

The definition of what a journalist is varies from one organization to another. Journalists who are affiliated with Hamas may be considered. Ordinary citizens who have become war reporters since the start of the conflict may also have been counted.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116