Palestinian journalist Bayan Abusultan goes missing after Israel kills her brother

Palestinian journalist Bayan Abusultan goes missing after Israel kills her brother
The Gaza city-based journalist has not been heard from since 19 March, when she tweeted to report the killing of her only brother.
4 min read
25 March, 2024
Bayan's profile on X reads: Palestinian. Feminist. Journalist. From the river to the sea. (Photo credit: profile picture, X)

"Israeli forces just murdered my only brother in front of my eyes."

These are the last words Bayan Abusultan, a Palestinian journalist based in Gaza City, posted on X (formerly Twitter) on 19 March, before two weeks of silence after meticulously covering Israel's war on Gaza from the heart of the enclave for months.

Abusultan has not posted on social media ever since, prompting concerns about her safety and speculations about her whereabouts,

Her last post on Instagram, where she has over 184,000 followers, was on 16 March.

"Where is Bayan?" Mariam Barghouti, a journalist and writer, posted on Twitter on Saturday, four days after Bayan was last heard from social media.

Her question was echoed by dozens of other users on Instagram, Twitter and Reddit, who have been following the Palestinian journalist daily since the start of the Gaza war, where over 32,000 people have died.

Another user responded to her post claiming that Bayan and her family "are still alive but they are literally starving and if they go outside they will get shot".

The user, who goes by the handle @Lolaa178, continued to provide updates on Bayan's whereabouts in the following hours but without citing sources or providing further evidence to back her claims.

These unconfirmed reports were picked up by other users, alarmed by Banan's silence.

"There are reports that @BayanPalestine is alive and among the people who are stuck and starving in the Al Shifa region. They probably fear that they will be shot like her brother on March 19. We need to find a way to evacuate," one user posted on X, urging others to support her campaign through the hashtag #SaveBayan.

Al-Shifa Hospital has been subject to a week of raids by the Israeli military, with dozens of patients and other civilians feared dead.

The hospital had become a refuge for Palestinians displaced from elsewhere in Gaza City, but there are fears for the safety of Gazans there due to violence and detentions.

Predictably, the posts also attracted comments from pro-Israel accounts rejoicing about Bayan's absence and her brother's death.

There is serious ground to be concerned about Bayan's safety. The last thing the journalist shared about her whereabouts indicates she was still based in Gaza City when her brother was killed.

She was working there as a correspondent and expressed no intention to leave the occupied city.

"Once again, [Israeli] forces are threading us to leave our houses in western #Gaza City as it’s part of their “Combat zone”. Well, it’s part of: Where I live. And I have no problem staying here until it becomes where I die too," Bayan posted on Twitter one day before her last tweet.

"I won’t leave my house and head south. No more running."

Bayan's sudden disappearance has a precedent. Many feared for her life in November 2023, as communication blackouts imposed by Israel on Gaza severely limited communications inside the besieged enclave. 

Since her disappearance, journalists from Jusoor Post found she had been displaced to Al-Shifa Hospital with her family trapped there for days.

"If you google me and find out I was killed, please take care of my books," she had written at the time. 

Israel's war on Gaza has killed more than 32,000 people, the vast majority children, women, and innocent men.