Palestinian journalists in blue "PRESS" flak vests mourn the killing of a colleague by Israeli forces.

A funeral ceremony is held for Palestine TV correspondent Mohammed Abu Hatab, who was killed, along with his family members, in an Israeli airstrike on his home in Khan Yunis, Gaza on November 3, 2023.

(Photo: Abed Zagout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

750+ Journalists to Colleagues: 'Tell the Full Truth' About Israeli Atrocities in Gaza

"This is our job: to hold power to account. Otherwise, we risk becoming accessories to genocide."

Hundreds of international media professionals have signed on to an open letter published Thursday demanding an end to Israel's killing of journalists in Gaza and urging Western newsrooms to call Israeli crimes—including "apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide"—by their names.

"The urgency of this moment cannot be overstated," the journalists wrote. "It is imperative that we change course."

Citing the Committee to Protect Journalists—which says at least 34 Palestinian media professionals have been killed during Israel's monthlong assault on Gaza—the letter states that "as reporters, editors, photographers, producers, and other workers in newsrooms around the world, we are appalled at the slaughter of our colleagues and their families by the Israeli military and government."

"We are writing to urge an end to violence against journalists in Gaza and to call on Western newsroom leaders to be clear-eyed in coverage of Israel's repeated atrocities against Palestinians," the letter continues, adding that journalists have been killed while "visibly working as press, as well as at night in their homes."

"An investigation from Reporters Without Borders also shows deliberate targeting of journalists during two October 13 Israeli strikes in south Lebanon, which killed Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah and injured six other journalists," the signers said.

"Reporters' families have been killed, too," the letter points out. "Wael Dahdouh, Al Jazeera's Gaza bureau chief and a household name in the Arab world, learned on-air October 25 that his wife, children, and other relatives had been killed in an Israeli airstrike. A November 5 strike on the home of journalist Mohammad Abu Hassir of Wafa News Agency killed him and 42 family members."

The letter notes that around 50 media headquarters have been hit in Gaza during the war, which is consistent with Israel's " decadeslong pattern of lethally targeting journalists," including Palestinian American Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh last year.

The media professionals signing the letter said they are heeding a call from the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate for Western reporters to "take action to stop the horrifying bombardment of our people in Gaza."

"We stand with our colleagues in Gaza and herald their brave efforts at reporting in the midst of carnage and destruction," they wrote. "Without them, many of the horrors on the ground would remain invisible."

"We also hold Western newsrooms accountable for dehumanizing rhetoric that has served to justify ethnic cleansing of Palestinians," the signers asserted. "Double standards, inaccuracies, and fallacies abound in American publications and have been well-documented."

The letter accuses Western media of undermining Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim perspectives, printing "misinformation spread by Israeli officials," and failing to "scrutinize indiscriminate killing of civilians in Gaza—committed with the support of the U.S. government."

After HonestReporting, an Israeli media watchdog, made unsubstantiated claims that reporters from media outlets including CNN, The New York Times, The Associated Press, and Reuters may have been embedded with Hamas during its October 7 attacks on Israel, in which four Israeli journalists were among the more than 1,400 people killed, some Israeli and U.S. media ran with the story as if it were a proven fact. Benny Gantz, a member of Israel's war Cabinet, took to social media to ominously suggest that journalists should be killed.

HonestReporting executive director Gil Hoffman subsequently walked back the group's claims, saying it was just "raising questions."

Meanwhile, Western media outlets have agreed to let Israeli military officials vet all materials recorded by their reporters embedded with Israel Defense Forces units during the invasion of Gaza.

The open letter laments that although U.N. experts have warned that Palestinians are "at grave risk of genocide" in the besieged strip, "Western outlets remain hesitant to quote genocide experts and accurately describe the existential threat unfolding in Gaza."

"This is our job: to hold power to account. Otherwise, we risk becoming accessories to genocide," the signers stressed.

"We are renewing the call for journalists to tell the full truth without fear or favor," they wrote. "To use precise terms that are well-defined by international human rights organizations, including 'apartheid,' 'ethnic cleansing,' and 'genocide.' To recognize that contorting our words to hide evidence of war crimes or Israel's oppression of Palestinians is journalistic malpractice and an abdication of moral clarity."

"Contorting our words to hide evidence of war crimes or Israel's oppression of Palestinians is journalistic malpractice and an abdication of moral clarity."

The Gaza Health Ministry said Friday that at least 11,078 Palestinians—including more than 3,000 women and over 4,500 children—have been killed and upward of 27,000 injured by Israeli bombs and bullets.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East—which says Israeli attacks have killed more than 100 of its workers—reported earlier this week that 70% of Gaza's 2.3 million people have been forcibly displaced, while an official at the U.N. Development Program said Thursday that half of the homes in Gaza have been destroyed.

For some of the journalists, signing the open letter was a risky move. Media professionals have resigned or been fired from their jobs for taking a stand against Israeli atrocities on their time off from work.

Award-winning New York Times reporter Jazmine Hughes, for example, resigned after signing an open letter condemning Israeli genocide in Gaza.

Times columnist Lauren Keiles also resigned after signing the letter. Earlier during the war, Jackson Frank, PhillyVoice's freshly hired Philadelphia 76ers basketball team beat writer, was terminated for expressing solidarity with Palestinians on social media.

Palestinian Canadian journalist Zahraa Al-Akhrass was fired last week by Global News over pro-Palestine social media posts.

"I was told to take down every post and comment with #FreePalestine, #GazaGenocide, and #GazaUnderAttack, saying that my posts make me look unbalanced," Al-Akhrass said in an Instagram video explaining her termination. "I was told the problem is with me expressing my beliefs, my opposition, for Israel's genocide of my people."

" Global was literally asking me to look at these horrific images—this genocide—and detach myself from my identity, my own people, and say nothing," she continued. "Is this ethical or moral, humane or diverse or inclusive?"

Al-Akhrass toldAndalou that "if Western media claims to be impartial, it should allow us to raise our voice without silencing or threatening Palestinians and without demanding our silence in the face of the injustice our people are facing."

"My dismissal should be seen within the context of a comprehensive movement aimed at silencing those who support Palestine in Western media," she added.

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