Image Credit: Associated Press

Al Aqsa Flood: Israel kills at least 21 journalists and targets many others

On Wednesday night, Israeli occupation forces targeted the family of Al Jazeera journalist Wael Al-Dahdouh, killing his wife, son and daughter, while he was reporting on the occupation’s ongoing aggressions against civilians in Gaza.

Later that evening, the Quds News Network reported that Israeli airstrikes also killed journalist Dua’ Sharf while she was in her home in Gaza.

The murder of Dahdouh’s family comes just days after Israel approves policies paving the way for the closure of Al Jazeera’s bureau, and only two weeks after US Secretary of State Blinken asks the Qatari Prime Minister to “tone down Al Jazeera’s coverage of Israel.”

The family had taken refuge in a house in the Nuseirat camp, southern Gaza, after being displaced by initial bombardment in their neighborhood in northern Gaza. The Israeli government had called for civilians to move southward and seek shelter there, but continued to repeatedly bomb the area.

Journalist Mohammed Farra has also experienced the devastating loss of his wife and children as a result of an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younes, South Gaza, while he was reporting in Ramallah.

So far, Israeli forces have killed at least 21 Palestinian and 1 Lebanese journalist according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and seriously injured many others. 

Journalists and their families have become direct targets in an unprecedented bombing campaign and blockade that have violated all forms of ethical consideration and all forms of international humanitarian law. To this day, no one has been held accountable.

Intentional and Systematic

The targeting of journalists has been intentional and comes as no surprise. While Israel masks its aggressions on Gaza as part of a plan to “eliminate Hamas”, the occupation forces has targetted civilian structures, residential neighborhoods and medical crews and hospitals, who have been operating on makeshift measures in light of lacking fuel and necessary equipment in besieged Gaza.

In addition to being intentional, the targeting of journalists is systematic and accompanies direct decisions by the Israeli government to crack down on media coverage of Israeli forces’ violations. 

The latest of such decisions is the government’s approval of regulations allowing the temporary shutdown of foreign news channels as the Israeli Communications Minister sought to shut down news television network Al Jazeera.

The occupation’s government has promoted this as a matter of “national security”, but Al Jazeera’s coverage of current events has spotlighted Palestinian voices rather than promoting the Israeli narrative – a narrative that has become popular across Western media outlets such as CNN and the BBC.

Multifaceted Violations

Before the current round of fighting, Israeli forces have long committed violations against media and cultural freedoms. According to the Samir Kassir eyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom (SKeyes), the Israeli army and Israeli security services have committed over 369 violations between 11 December, 2019 and 19 October 2023 only.

These are only documented violations – ones that directly impacted journalists and not including those targeting their families and others. They include the killing of journalists, arrests, summons, detention, physical assault/injuries and job obstruction.

Silencing Pro-Palestinian Voices

Explicitly, former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that objective international media coverage serves Hamas in what is a quintessential genocidal propaganda call.

The silencing of pro-Palestinian voices has been systematic and intentional not only by Israeli forces and governments but also by governments in Germany and France which, despite claiming to be democracies, have cracked down on pro-Palestinian demonstrations and have taken measures against those who voice their opinion in favor of Palestinian rights, including Jewish people.

Mainstream social media platforms have also played a role in that regard, with Instagram and Meta broadly banning pro-Palestinian pages and hiding pro-Palestinian posts and stories through algorithmic measures.

Pro-Palestinian endeavors around the world and active campaigns demanding for Palestinian people’s rights have reached unprecedented levels – levels that are far too big for genocide enablers to silence.

Journalists have committed and continue to commit indescribable sacrifices to report on the daily developments taking place in besieged Gaza and south Lebanon.