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Surge in Journalist Fatalities Amid Israel-Hamas War Raises Global Concerns

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

Nasma Ibrahim, Staff Writer

Photo// Flickr, Woman pays her respects to Journalist killed covering Israeli raid.

In the midst of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, a concerning number of civilian casualties has been reported, with a shocking rise in the deaths of journalists.

Following the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, reporters from around the globe rushed to cover the unfolding events in both Israel and Gaza. However, access to Gaza for international journalists has been rare and dangerous, leading to many leaving shortly after the initial attack.

Israel’s government has asserted its inability to guarantee the safety of journalists in the Gaza Strip, a statement called alarming by Sherif Mansour, the Committee to Protect Journalists Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. Since October 7, at least 42 journalists and media workers have lost their lives, making October 2023 the deadliest month for journalists in the past three decades.

Among the casualties, 37 were Palestinian journalists killed in Gaza, four were Israeli journalists killed in Israel, and one was a Lebanese journalist near the Israel-Lebanon border. In addition to the confirmed deaths, nine journalists have been reported injured, three missing, and thirteen arrested.

Israeli officials maintain that they are taking measures to minimize civilian deaths and eradicate Hamas, alleging that the militant group intentionally positions itself near journalists and civilians to avoid strikes. However, a troubling pattern of journalists being killed by Israeli forces over the past two decades has emerged, with 20 deaths since 2001, prior to October 7. A report from the CRJ reveals that Israel has not fully investigated most of these killings, and the group is looking into unconfirmed reports of additional journalists' deaths.

Israel’s track record in journalist deaths came under scrutiny last year when American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh of Al Jazeera was killed while wearing clear press identification. Initially denying IDF involvement, Israel later acknowledged that gunfire likely caused her death, but did not open a criminal investigation.

The challenges in international media coverage mean that understanding what’s going on in Gaza relies on the first-hand accounts of local Palestinian journalists on the ground, often exposed to the risks of violence. Unfortunately, the tragedy extends to the families of these journalists, exemplified by Al Jazeera’s Gaza chief correspondent, Wael Al Dahdouh, who had to stop reporting to mourn the loss of his wife, son, daughter, and grandson - all killed in an Israeli airstrike.

Beyond physical threats, more than 10 incidents of assaults, arrests, threats, cyberattacks, and censorship of journalists reporting on the Israel-Hamas war have been documented. On November 12, Israel’s security cabinet approved a measure to shut down Lebanon-based news outlet Al Mayadeen TV in Israel. The Israeli government has also closed the West Bank radio station ‘Dream’ and issued threats to close AlJazeera’s local offices.

As the conflict unfolds, the presence of about 1,000 journalists in the region highlights the media community amid escalating violence. International concerns persist regarding safety and freedom of the press.

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