Geneva – Amidst its 44-day genocide of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Israel has launched a killing spree against journalists there, deliberately targeting media professionals and offices in an attempt to impose a real and comprehensive media blackout on the entire Strip, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a statement today.
As of Sunday 19 November, the Israeli military has killed 59 Palestinian journalists and injured dozens more, said Euro-Med Monitor. The organisation called it the highest-ever rate of journalists killed in wars or conflicts in modern history. The killed journalists all belong to media groups operating in the Gaza Strip, and include a correspondent for Palestine TV, members of the official Palestinian news agency, and others working for local and international media outlets and institutions.
Israel’s escalation against journalists has been accompanied by public incitement by Israeli ministers and officials, who made unfounded and illogical claims that journalists had knowledge of the 7 October attack in southern Israel. Notably, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon called for photojournalists in Gaza to be added to the list of participants in the 7 October operation and be “eliminated” by the Israeli army.
According to Euro-Med Monitor, Israel has purposefully left no safe haven for journalists in the Gaza Strip. Journalists have even been targeted while wearing press jackets in the field, inside press tents erected for media coverage next to hospitals, and in their family homes.
Meanwhile, Israeli air and artillery attacks have completely or partially destroyed at least 117 press offices, and the vast majority of the Strip’s 24 radio stations have been disrupted due to the frequent Israeli attacks and fuel shortage. Israel has also restricted satellite channels operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the Al-Mayadeen Media Network’s Palestine location. There is also a threat that the Al-Jazeera Network will suffer the same fate.
Euro-Med Monitor has received testimonies from multiple journalists expressing the identical fear that media equipment they received from international organisations via Israel may include location-tracking or eavesdropping devices, which may have facilitated their recent targeting.
Targeting journalists is considered a war crime under international humanitarian law, Euro-Med Monitor stated. UN Security Council Resolutions 2015/2222 and 2006/1738 condemn intentional attacks against journalists, media professionals, and associated personnel, as such, in situations of armed conflict. Under Article 79 of Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions, which codifies a customary rule, journalists in war zones must be treated as civilians and protected as such, provided they play no part in the hostilities.
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor called for an independent international investigation into Israel’s crimes against journalists, given its long history of targeting them, whether in the West Bank or during repeated military operations on the Gaza Strip. The organisation also urged the international community to put an end to the policy of impunity that has allowed Israel to target more and more journalists.
Euro-Med Monitor reiterated its strong condemnation of Israel’s targeting and indiscriminate killing of journalists in conflict areas aimed at preventing them from performing their media coverage, calling for urgent international measures to hold those involved accountable and end the systematic Israeli targeting of journalists throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory.