75% of all journalists killed across the world in 2023 were killed in Israeli war on Gaza, says CPJ

Report says it is difficult to track journalist deaths in Gaza due to Israeli non-cooperation

A protest against the killing of journalists in Gaza - International Federation of Journalists/X

Nearly three fourths of all journalists and media workers killed in 2023 were Palestinians who were killed in the first three months of the Israeli war in Gaza, said the annual report of Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released on Thursday, February 15.

According to the CPJ, at least 99 journalists and media workers were killed in 2023. This is the highest number of journalists and media persons killed in a year since 2015 and was a 44% increase from last year when the figure was 69.

Among the 78 journalists and media workers killed in the Israeli war on Gaza, 72 were Palestinians, three were Lebanese and two were Israeli journalists.

The report stated that the details of the circumstances leading to the killing of most of the journalists and media workers in Gaza were difficult to obtain due to Israel’s refusal to cooperate. A large number of family members of those journalists and media workers were also killed in the Israeli bombings and ground offensive which made the task of investigating the circumstances of their killing difficult.

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A total of more than 28,700 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 69,000 others have been wounded in the Israeli war in Gaza since October 7. Many journalists have lost their entire families in Israeli attacks.

CJP claimed that at least 78 of the journalists and thirteen media workers were killed on duty in 2023. It also claimed that there were eight more journalists killed last year but the investigation into the circumstances in which they were killed was still not complete. CJP claimed that a large number of journalists in Palestine were killed deliberately and it has raised the issue with the Israelis.

Most of the Palestinian journalists killed on duty in Gaza were in full gear and easily identifiable when they were targeted in air strikes or during Israeli ground offensives.

Deliberately targeting and killing journalists on duty is a war crime as per international law. Israel often claims that journalists killed in Gaza were members of “terrorist groups” without providing any evidence.

The numbers are much higher, say other groups

Several more journalists and media workers have been killed in Gaza by Israeli forces since December, including Al-Jazeera journalist Hamza al-Dahdouh who was targeted and killed by a missile attack on the car in which he was traveling with another freelance journalist Mustafa Thuraya.

Hamza was the son of prominent journalist Wael Dahdouh, most of whose family members were killed in Israeli strikes earlier. Wael himself was injured in one of the attacks carried out by the Israelis while on duty.

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According to estimates by other organizations, the number of Palestinian journalists killed is higher. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) claimed at least 95 journalists or around 8% of all registered journalists in Palestine have been killed by Israel between October 7 and December 19.

According to Palestinian Authority’s media office, the total number of media workers killed in Palestine since October 7 is 126. PJS claims that most of the journalists killed in Gaza were deliberately targeted by Israeli forces with the intention of “assassination and murder.” Some of the journalists were also threatened by Israeli forces before they were actually killed for covering the Israeli genocide, PJS alleged.

In addition to killing Palestinian journalists, Israel has also resorted to other means of shutting down the spread of information, including media gags, denial of visas to foreign journalists, and repeated shutdowns of the internet and telecommunication services, sometimes for weeks.

“The war [Israeli war in Gaza] is unprecedented in terms of threats to journalists” Jodie Ginsberg, Chief Executive Officer of the CPJ, told Al-Jazeera.

Israel has a long history of targeting and killing journalists. In 2022, Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed when she was reporting the Israeli military raid on Jenin. CPJ claims there were at least 20 such cases before the current war in Gaza but no one has ever been charged or held responsible for these killings.