Palestinian women journalist say, "Stop Killing Palestinian Journalists. We Need Protection."

Palestinian journalists stage a protest to draw attention to Palestinian press killed while covering the war in the Gaza Strip on February 26, 2024 in Rafah, Gaza.

(Photo: Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

Global News Leaders Voice Solidarity With Gaza Journalists Under Israeli Attack

"Journalists are civilians and Israeli authorities must protect journalists as noncombatants according to international law."

As Palestinian journalists brave Israeli bombs and bullets to show the world the Gaza genocide, leaders of three dozen prominent international media outlets on Thursday signed an open letter voicing solidarity with Palestinian media professionals "in their call for safety, protection, and the freedom to report."

"For nearly five months, journalists and media workers in Gaza—overwhelmingly, the sole source of on-the-ground reporting from within the Palestinian territory—have been working in unprecedented conditions: At least 89 have been killed in the war... more journalists than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year," states the letter, which was coordinated by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) with the support of the World Association of News Publishers.

"These journalists—on whom the international news media and the international community rely for information about the situation inside Gaza—continue to report despite grave personal risk," the letter notes. "They continue despite the loss of family, friends, and colleagues, the destruction of homes and offices, constant displacement, communications blackouts, and shortages of food and fuel."

"Journalists are civilians and Israeli authorities must protect journalists as noncombatants according to international law," the signers stressed. "Those responsible for any violations of that long-standing protection should be held accountable. Attacks on journalists are also attacks on truth. We commit to championing the safety of journalists in Gaza, which is fundamental for the protection of press freedom everywhere."

Signatories to the letter include CEOs, editors, and publishers of outlets including ABC News, Agence France-Presse, Al-Araby, Asahi Shimbun, The Associated Press, CNN, Financial Times, The Guardian, Haaretz, The Independent, ITN, ITV, The Irish Times, Los Angeles Times, NBC News, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Rappler, Reuters, The Sowetan, Der Spiegel, Süddeutsche Zeitung, The Washington Post, and others.

More journalists have been killed in Gaza in less than five months than in all of World War II or the Vietnam War, according to the U.S.-based advocacy group Freedom Forum.

CPJ has previously condemned Israel's "apparent pattern of targeting journalists and their families," noting cases in which media workers were killed while wearing press insignia and after being threatened by Israeli officials.

"The Israeli army killed dozens of journalists while wearing [identification]," Palestinian journalist Ruwaida Amer told i's Kieron Monks in an interview this week. "You may protect yourself if you do not wear it."

Other journalists have been wounded, sometimes severely, by Israeli forces. For example, Agence France-Presse photojournalist Christina Assi had her legs blown off by an Israeli tank shell while she and a group of journalists were covering cross-border clashes between Israel and the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah. The attack killed 37-year-old Lebanese Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah and wounded five other media workers. Human Rights Watch called the incident an "apparently deliberate" act and a "likely war crime."

Dozens of media professionals have also been arrested and others have reported being abused by Israeli troops, even during live broadcasts.

United Nations officials have also condemned Israel's "killing and silencing of journalists" in Gaza.

"In times of conflict, the right to information is a 'survival right' on which the very lives of civilians depend, and journalists play an indispensable role as a vital source of information, and as human rights defenders and witnesses to atrocities, reporting on violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and human rights," a group of U.N. special rapporteurs recently wrote.

"Journalists are entitled to protection as civilians under international humanitarian law. Targeted attacks and killings of journalists are war crimes," they stressed, adding that "we urge the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court to give particular attention to the dangerous pattern of attacks and impunity for crimes against journalists, which has intensified since October 7."

The International Court of Justice is currently investigating South Africa-led accusations of Israeli genocide in Gaza. The ICJ issued a preliminary ruling in January ordering Israel to avoid genocidal acts—an order human rights groups say Israel is ignoring.

Gaza officials say Israeli forces have killed at least 30,228 Palestinians—mostly women and children—and wounded more than 71,300 others while forcibly displacing around 90% of Gaza's 2.3 million people since October 7. Israel also severely tightened its economic stranglehold on the besieged coastal enclave, precipitating the spread of disease and starvation that is now killing children.

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