Israel is murdering journalists at an unprecedented rate in an attempt to hide its massacre in Gaza — the Palestinians risking their lives to expose these crimes need our support.
Friends and relatives mourn the bodies of Palestinian journalists Muhammad Sobh and Saeed Al-Taweel, who were killed during their work by Israeli air strikes on October 10, 2023 in Gaza City, Gaza. (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)
Journalists in Gaza are suffering in ways that are hard to comprehend — with access to little food or water, living in tents, and going about their work on foot — and that is before you consider the extraordinary number who have lost their lives in this conflict. The appeal for help issued on 20 November by Nasser Abu Baker, president of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, begins with a description of these conditions.
‘We cannot let the world look away as these atrocities continue,’ says Baker. ‘Only journalists stand between the truth and total media blackout.’ Baker calls on sister unions and others around the world to dig deep and donate funds towards desperately needed aid, safety gear, and specialist equipment for journalists, so that the cameras can keep rolling in Gaza.
Every day for the last six weeks, journalists in Gaza have shown inhuman strength and bravery reporting from the frontlines. Journalists are losing their lives at four times the rate of the enclave’s general population. Since the start of the war, nearly fifty journalists have been killed by Israeli forces. That’s almost one every single day. Two are unaccounted for and at least a further six are missing. More journalists have died since the beginning of this violence than in the last twenty years.
At the same time, many journalists have been displaced from their homes, and are now living in tents around Khan Yunis. Collectively, they have lost around 1,000 family members.
This is the price they pay for doing their jobs, for documenting Israel’s ongoing devastation of Gaza, and for showing evidence of its war crimes to the outside world. Israel does not want the world to witness their atrocities.
Israel has freely admitted to destroying communications systems in Gaza ahead of their intense bombing campaigns. Israeli airstrikes have targeted and completely or partially destroyed the headquarters of several media outlets, including al-Ayyam newspaper, Gaza FM radio, and Shehab news and Palestinian news agency Ma’an, among others. The targeting of journalists is itself a violation of international law.
Despite all this, losing their homes, their places of work, and many family members, journalists in Gaza continue to report in almost unspeakable circumstances. With no transport, they are making incredible efforts to move from place to place, carrying heavy equipment on their shoulders, following live fire and airstrikes. Many were staying in hospital ward entrances to access power points, but now even those are at crisis point.
Deputy General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists Tim Dawson has praised their bravery and commitment to their profession, stating that: ‘Despite the hardships this dedicated band are determined to show the world what is happening where they live. It is their footage that dominates the world’s TV screens, their testimony that fills column inches, their voices that animate radio broadcasts. Without Gaza’s journalists, there would be no independent account of what has befallen the region.’
The IFJ has been steadfast in its support for Palestinian journalists, and is now throwing its weight behind the appeal for aid donations. Since 7 October it has been working closely with Tahseen al-Astall, the deputy general secretary of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, to distribute vital aid and equipment. This includes items such as individual blast trauma first aid kits, and battery packs to recharge equipment—a particularly pressing need given Israel has cut power and fuel to the strip.
Now, with winter setting in and at least 45 percent of Gaza’s housing units destroyed according to OCHA, the IFJ has identified tents as the most pressing need, and is working with UNESCO to bring them through the Rafah Crossing at the earliest opportunity. Sourcing protective gear such as helmets, body armour and gas masks is also a point of focus, as is meeting the desperate need for basic equipment including chargers, external hard drives, and flash USBs.
In his plea, President Nasser Abu Baker states: ‘These deaths are more than just journalists. They are our friends and colleagues who have dedicated their lives and paid the ultimate price as reporters. Yes, we have buried them, and will continue to remember them.’
Every day it becomes clearer that there is no military solution to this violence. There must be a ceasefire, immediate and unrestricted humanitarian aid, and an end to the siege and the occupation. Those responsible for the indiscriminate targeting of journalists must be brought to justice.
We must do everything we can to protect journalists and make sure that information on the Gaza bombardment and siege and the settler violence in the West Bank is placed in plain view for the world to see. Please, give what you can.
Individual, organisational and union branch donations to the emergency fund can be made here.
Watch PJS President Nasser Abu Bakar’s appeal for financial aid to help journalists and media workers in Gaza here.Original post