Journalist deaths in Israel-Gaza war reaches 77 as South Africa alleges ‘genocide’ in international court

In more than 30 years of documenting journalist fatalities, the Committee to Protect Journalists has never seen such intense violence as in the Israel-Gaza war, with the organisation calling for the protection of media workers as the death toll has risen to at least 77 since 7 October 2023.

As well as the rising death toll, CPJ noted the “anti-press aggression and restrictions” that severely impact the ability of journalists to obtain witness accounts, meaning the public’s ability to know what is happening is “severely compromised with likely ramifications across the world.”

In a statement, the organisation highlighted that humanitarian law and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights state the right to know information and that journalists are civilians who must be respected and protected by all working parties.

“The deliberate targeting of journalists or media infrastructure constitutes a war crime,” they said.

“Failing to protect journalists in the Israel-Gaza war would be a resounding failure to protect press freedom and our collective right to be informed,” they added.

Following the 7 October Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, killing just under 1,200 people, Israel launched a retaliation on Gaza, killing over 22,000 people to date, the majority of whom are women and children. Over 310 Palestinians have also been killed in the West Bank since 7 October, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The festive period was particularly bloody, with at least 300 people being killed every day and 70 civilians killed in one Israeli air strike on a refugee camp on 24 December, despite ongoing calls for a ceasefire.

Deadliest war for journalists since 1992

As for the death of journalists and media workers, CPJ called it “the deadliest period for journalists since CPJ began gathering data in 1992.”

As of 3 January, CPJ’s preliminary investigations showed at least 77 journalists and media workers were killed since the conflict flared.

Of these, 70 were Palestinian, four were Israeli, and three were Lebanese.  A further 16 were reported injured, three missing, 21 arrested, and multiple accounts of assaults, threats, cyberattacks, censorship and killings of family members.

CPJ is also investigating numerous unconfirmed reports of other journalists being killed, missing, detained, hurt or threatened and of damage to media offices and journalists’ homes.

They noted that the Israel Defence Forces told Reuters and AFP they could not guarantee the safety of their journalists working in the Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, CPJ said 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.

“CPJ emphasises that journalists are civilians doing important work during times of crisis and must not be targeted by warring parties,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.

“Journalists across the region are making great sacrifices to cover this heartbreaking conflict. Those in Gaza, in particular, have paid, and continue to pay, an unprecedented toll and face exponential threats. Many have lost colleagues, families and media facilities and have fled seeking safety when there is no safe haven or exit.”

In mid-December, Reporters Without Borders reported that until 1 December, 13 journalists were killed while performing their duties. CPJ’s figures include those who were killed even while not performing their work.

Israel to face genocide allegations in court

Meanwhile, South Africa has launched a case at the United Nations International Court of Justice alleging that Israel’s campaign in Gaza amounts to genocide.

The case is based on the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, drawn up after World War II and the Holocaust.

Under the provisions of the convention, genocide is defined as “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

In an 84-page document, South Africa argues Israel’s action in Gaza is “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part” of the Palestinians of Gaza.

It calls on the court to declare Israel “has breached and continues to breach its obligations under the Genocide Convention” and to order it to cease hostilities that could amount to breaches of the convention, offer reparations and provide for reconstruction.

The document references comments and statements by Israeli officials that express genocidal intent and reflect conditions meant to “bring about their [Palestinians] physical destruction as a group.”

Israel has rejected the claim of genocide, with the foreign ministry calling it a “despicable and contemptuous exploitation of court,” but said they would send a legal team to The Hague to fight the case.

This week, two Israeli officials came under fire from the US and EU after comments made about Palestinians. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called for promoting “a solution to encourage the emigration of Gaza’s residents” as it is “a correct, just, moral and humane solution.”

“This is an opportunity to develop a project to encourage Gaza’s residents to emigrate to countries around the world,” he told a meeting of his ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit, or ‘Jewish Power’, party.

He doubled down on the comments following calls to refrain from the inflammatory language from Washington.

“The United States is our best friend, but first of all, we will do what is best for the State of Israel: the migration of hundreds of thousands from Gaza will allow the (Israeli) residents to return home and live in security and will protect the IDF (Israeli) soldiers,” he posted on X (Twitter).

                           

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2 Comments
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Paul Henry Berman
Paul Henry Berman
1 month ago

If it moves they shoot it including their own citizens. They were killing journalists before the Hamas attack, they have killed more UN staff than in any other conflict, they also killed a record number of doctors

Logic
Logic
1 month ago

And were is Metsola to condemn this?

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