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The Israel-Hamas war: one of the deadliest for journalists | Middle East, the eternal conflict

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Palestinians mourn journalists Hassouna Sleem and Sary Mansour, who were killed in an Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip in November 2023.


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Since October 7, at least 50 journalists from the Middle East have lost their lives in bombings – the vast majority in Gaza – according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a non-governmental organization based in New York. October was the deadliest month for journalists since CPJ began collecting data in 1992.

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Last Saturday, a rocket fired by the Israeli army destroyed buildings in the Al-Bureij refugee camp in Gaza. Independent photojournalist Hassouna Saliem rushed to the scene and posted a short video on social media showing columns of smoke, shards of concrete and the chaotic sounds of a rescue operation. /p>

In another post, he commented on the rows of bodies wrapped in white shrouds. A sad morning, like every morning in Gaza, he wrote. This will be his last message. He was killed that evening, along with 30 others, in Israeli strikes on the same refugee camp.

In the weeks before his dead, the Palestinian journalist acknowledged the risks of covering the war, but he also said he did not think the deaths of so many journalists in Gaza were due to chance. He claimed that journalists and medical teams were victims of assassination, that most colleagues had fallen as martyrs.

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Middle East, the eternal conflict

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This is the most shocking and horrific massacre of journalists that I have ever witnessed,” said the deputy secretary general of the International Federation of Journalists, Tim Dawson. Based in Brussels, this group claims to represent 600,000 members worldwide, unions and journalists' associations.

My biggest fear is that there is a deliberate attempt to target journalists in order to prevent the world from knowing what is happening in the Gaza Strip since October 7.

A quote from Tim Dawson, Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation of Journalists

His concerns are shared by other speakers who ensure the safety of journalists and the media.

Journalists are part of the society that is targeted. It is therefore not surprising that they are dying in such large numbers, says Fiona O'Brien of Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Ms. O'Brien adds that many within RSF believe that a concerted effort is being made to keep the war from being covered and to prevent journalists from doing their job properly.< /p>

The Israeli army fiercely denies that it targets journalists in Gaza, Lebanon or the West Bank, but these denials are increasingly difficult to accept for defenders of press freedom, with the number of deaths continuing to grow.

Israeli authorities have repeatedly said that their attacks were intended to eradicate Hamas and destroy its military capabilities and that civilians are never Israel is at war with Hamas, Israel is not at war with the civilians of Gaza, said Daniel Hagari, one of the main spokespersons for the Israeli army.

In an email to CBC, the Israel Defense Forces wrote: The Israel Defense Forces have never targeted journalists and will never deliberately target journalists. journalists. The army's message, however, suggests that some of the journalists killed were using their profession as cover and that they were in fact activists.

The Israeli Defense Forces confirmed that some of the journalists allegedly killed were active terrorist militants and were directly participating in the clashes, the statement said.

No further information or evidence to confirm this allegation has been provided by the Israeli military.

Virtually no foreign journalists were in Gaza when the border with Israel was closed after the October 7 attack. It is therefore Palestinian journalists who tell the rest of the world about the effects of the war.

The International Federation of Journalists estimates that in Gaza there are around 1,000 people doing work that could be considered journalism, including reporters who work for international news agencies, independent journalists and videographers. p>Open in full screen mode

Journalist Hind Khoudary reporting outside Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis (File photo)

Hind Khoudary is one of them. A freelance journalist, she works for CBC News in Gaza and also reports in English for the Turkish news agency Anadolu.

We have witnessed several attacks against teams of journalists, medical teams, ambulances, press houses and against Belal Jadallah, one of the leaders of the press house in the Gaza Strip, reports -she.

Mr. Jadallah was killed in Gaza City on Sunday when his car was hit by an Israeli missile, according to witnesses. He was one of Gaza's best-known journalists and had spent decades training journalists and offering security awareness courses.

Everyone is targeted.

A quote from Hind Khoudary, Palestinian journalist

Khoudary told CBC News that despite the dangers, she continues to put herself in harm's way because she believes the story on the ground in Gaza needs to be told.

I believe that I have a huge impact, a huge responsibility on my shoulders to report […] and spread the voice of the Palestinians, to report what is happening on the ground and to tell people around the world what is happening. currently passing through the Gaza Strip.

In a recent report for Anadolu published on YouTube, Hind Khoudary visited the road to Salah al-Din, as hundreds of people fled Gaza City. She explains that many of those fleeing feared that Israeli troops would open fire with live ammunition.

People are terrified, the situation is horrible. I see fear, terror, anger and sadness in the eyes of all these people, she said in the report.

Palestinian journalists don't just report on the situation and do their jobs, they live it, said Fiona O'Brien of Reporters Without Borders.

They have no water, no food, no electricity. Their families live there. Their families are targeted.

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Al Jazeera journalist Wael Al-Dahdouh attends the funeral of his wife and children in Gaza. (File photo)

Al Jazeera journalist Wael Dahdouh lost four members of his family – his wife, son, daughter and grandson – in an Israeli bombing. He continued to work in the days following the attack.

Journalists in Gaza cannot leave. They are exhausted psychologically and physically. They tell us they can't sleep because they're scared, Ms. O'Brien said.

RSF's Fiona O'Brien says working under Hamas' authoritarian control means Palestinian journalists are regularly subject to censorship or pressure to report events in a certain way, but what is killing people is Israeli bombing.

In addition to military threats, journalists must face the fierce battle of #x27;information that takes place in parallel.

In early November, a report by Honest Reporting, a pro-Israeli NGO, claimed that Hamas briefed some Gaza journalists before the October 7 attacks and invited some of them to come as witnesses.

This report was widely denounced by major news outlets, including the Associated Press and theNew York Times, who said the allegations were completely false.

O'Brien said the false story served to fuel hatred against journalists and media organizations.

What is really worrying is the rhetoric and how it has been echoed by Israeli politicians, she said. It went so far that Likud member Danny Danon spoke of the need to eliminate journalists.

She emphasizes that an environment where it is acceptable for politicians to talk about killing journalists contributes to normalizing violence against them.

While Gaza has accounted for the lion's share of journalist deaths, deaths in southern Lebanon following Israeli attacks have also sparked outrage against Israeli forces.

The preliminary conclusions of an investigation carried out by Reporters Without Borders revealed that the journalists had established a live position that was clearly identified and observable by the Israeli military.

They also had press signs on their vehicles that would have been visible to Israeli helicopters flying overhead, and all wore protective gear and helmets that identified them as members of the media.

However, the Israeli military fired twice at the group, according to the RSF report.

The document concludes that it is unlikely that the journalists were mistaken for combatants.

In response, the The Israeli army issued this statement to the Associated Press: We are aware of a complaint regarding journalists in the area who were killed following the attack. This is an area where hostilities are active and exchanges of fire are taking place. It is dangerous to be in this area.

With reporting from CBC's Chris Brown

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