By Jessica Corbett / Common Dreams
As of Friday, at least 36 journalists have been killed since Hamas-led attacks led to Israel’s devastating war on the Gaza Strip—meaning the past month has been the deadliest four-week period for members of the media since a U.S.-based group started keeping records in 1992.
Of the three dozen deaths recorded by the Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) since October 7, there are 31 Palestinians, four Israelis, and one Lebanese reporter. The group has also documented at least eight injuries, three missing people, eight arrests, and “multiple assaults, threats, cyberattacks, censorship, and killings of family members.”
Sherif Mansour, the organization’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said in a statement, “CPJ emphasizes that journalists are civilians doing important work during times of crisis and must not be targeted by warring parties.”
“Journalists across the region are making great sacrifices to cover this heartbreaking conflict,” he stressed. “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.”
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The most recent death on CPJ’s list is that of Palestine TV correspondent Mohammed Abu Hatab, who on Thursday “was killed along with 11 members of his family in an Israeli airstrike on their home in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip,” according to the group.
CPJ also highlighted that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)—accused of numerous war crimes during what critics are calling a “genocidal” assault—told Agence France Presse and Reuters that it cannot guarantee the safety of their journalists working in Gaza.
As Reutersreported last week:
“The IDF is targeting all Hamas military activity throughout Gaza,” the IDF letter said, adding that Hamas deliberately put military operations “in the vicinity of journalists and civilians.”
The IDF also noted that its high-intensity strikes on Hamas targets could cause damage to surrounding buildings and that Hamas rockets could also misfire and kill people inside Gaza.
“Under these circumstances, we cannot guarantee your employees’ safety, and strongly urge you to take all necessary measures for their safety,” the IDF letter concluded.
AFPsaid on social media Friday that its “office in the Gaza Strip, a territory relentlessly shelled by the Israeli army, was seriously damaged yesterday by a strike,” though none of the eight staffers who work there were on-site. The agency noted that an IDF spokesperson claimed there had been “no strike” by the Israeli military on the building.
“AFP condemns in the strongest terms this strike on its office in Gaza City,” said Fabrice Fries, the agency’s CEO. “The location of the office is known to all and has been recalled several times in recent days, precisely to prevent such an attack and allow us to continue to bear witness in images on the ground.”
“Journalists and media offices must be respected and protected,” CPJ president Jodie Ginsberg declared in response to the AFP office strike. “Journalists are civilians who play an essential role corroborating information and keeping the public informed.”
Other groups around the world have also been tracking the war’s impact on journalists, including Reporters Without Borders, also known as Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF).
“We cannot ignore the level of deaths of journalists in Gaza,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire toldTIME. “These figures are worse than those killed during the Russia-Ukraine war and show that what’s happening is incredibly shocking.”
As TIME detailed:
On Wednesday, RSF called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the deaths of eight Palestinian journalists it says were killed in Israel’s bombardment of civilian areas in the Gaza Strip, along with an Israeli journalist killed during Hamas’ surprise attack in southern Israel. The complaint also refers to “the deliberate, total or partial, destruction of the premises of more than 50 media outlets in Gaza” since the war began. “The gravity and the frequency of the killing of journalists is so intense that we are calling on the ICC to investigate these deaths,” Deloire says.
RSF’s latest complaint is the third filed by the organization since 2018 which alleges that war crimes have been committed against Palestinian journalists in Gaza. Under international humanitarian law and the ICC’s Rome Statute, even if journalists are victims of legitimate military targets, the attack would constitute a war crime because it nevertheless caused “manifestly excessive and disproportionate harm to civilians,” according to the complaint.
RSF also revealed Sunday that its investigation foundReuters video journalist Issam Abdallah and his colleagues were intentionally targeted in southern Lebanon in strikes launched last month from the direction of the Israeli border.
An IDF spokesperson said the Israeli military was “very sorry” for and would investigate Abdallah’s death. The strike that killed him on October 13 also seriously injured AFP correspondent Christina Assi.
Jessica Corbett is a staff writer for Common Dreams.