War on Gaza: Is Israel targeting journalists?

War on Gaza: Is Israel targeting journalists?
Since Israel's relentless bombardment of Gaza began in October, concerns have grown over the safety of Palestinian journalists documenting events and potential war crimes, with 24 journalists killed by Israeli strikes in just 19 days.
3 min read
26 October, 2023
Wael Al-Dahdouh lost his wife, son, daughter, and grandson in an Israeli airstrike on Wednesday [Getty]

Since Israel waged a relentless bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip on 7 October, concerns have mounted about the protection of a handful of journalists who have remained in the enclave to document events and at times gather digital evidence of possible war crimes.

The New Arab delves into a pressing and unsettling inquiry: Are Palestinian journalists being deliberately targeted by Israel?

Israeli officials have maintained that they don't intentionally civilians or journalists but the reality on the ground tells a different story.

Late on Wednesday, three journalists were killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza, bringing the total number of journalist casualties to 24 since Israel's latest campaign on the besieged enclave in just 19 days.

The Forum of Palestinian Journalists (FPJ) said on Facebook on Wednesday that Saed al-Halabi and Mohammed Labad, were killed in Israeli attacks, adding that Halabi was killed after his house was struck earlier in the day.

All the journalist casualties are Palestinian except one Lebanese, FPJ said, adding that two other journalists remain missing.

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The comment came after Al Jazeera posted on X (formerly Twitter) that a journalist, identified as Jamal al-Faqaawi, was killed in an Israeli air strike on his house in Khan Younis.

The FPJ condemned the "Israeli occupation army for targeting journalist houses", noting that in addition to Halabi’s case, the Israeli forces struck the house of Quds Radio journalist Mohammed Makkat, "leading to the martyrdom of him and his mother and sister".

The FPJ further condemned the Israeli arrest of Palestinian journalists in the occupied West Bank, saying that journalist Radwan Qatnani has been arrested from the Askar refugee camp, east of Nablus, just days after detaining journalists Thaer al-Fakhouri, Musab Qafisha and Mohammed Sharaka, noting that the latter was injured.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera issued a statement after the family of its bureau chief in Gaza, Wael Al Dahdouh, lost his wife, son, daughter, and grandson in an Israeli airstrike on Wednesday. Twelve members of the Al Dahdouh family were killed, including 9 children.

"Al Jazeera is deeply concerned about the safety, and well-being of our colleagues in Gaza and hold the Israeli authorities responsible for their security," a statement by Al Jazeera Media Network said.

"The Network strongly condemns the indiscriminate targeting and killing of innocent civilians in Gaza, which has led to the loss of Wael Al-Dahdouh’s family and countless others."

Dahdouh's family, who lived in Gaza City, fled Israel's bombardment to stay with relatives in Nuseirat while he had stayed behind in Gaza City to continue his coverage of the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

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A day earlier, a source told Axios news outlet that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had asked Qatar, which owns the  Al Jazeera Media Network, "to tone down Al Jazeera's rhetoric about the war in Gaza".

Al Jazeera Arabic presenter Tamer Almisshal claimed the killing of Dahdouh’s family members was part of an ongoing Israeli strategy to target Palestinian journalists, specifically of Dahdouh, Al Jazeera Arabic’s Gaza bureau chief, whom Almisshal referred to as the "voice of Gaza".

"Wael Al-Dahdouh is a pillar in the world of journalism in Gaza," Almisshal said. "He’s covered the Israeli offensives and wars on Gaza for years, the targeting of journalists, and the killing of women and children.

"Wael has continued to report on Israeli atrocities despite the ongoing threats against him and his family, and he’s refused to leave Gaza in order to convey to the world what is happening there.

"His voice will go on - that we can guarantee. All our voices will go on, and we’ll continue to cover this assault to get the truth out every day."