On Oct. 7, 2023, Israel declared war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and has bombarded Palestinian homes, medical and educational institutions, and markets for the past 63 days. For 63 days, Palestinians have mourned the loss of their loved ones—a figure that continues rising, with more than 17,500 civilians killed as of Dec. 9. This number is expected to increase as Gazan medical facilities deteriorate due to the lack of electricity and inaccessibility of medical equipment in the besieged region.
At least 63 journalists and media workers are among the 17,500 killed since Oct. 7. Journalists have been put at risk in the field when attempting to document the war. Israel’s government has continuously targeted journalists, striking their homes and workplaces and consequently violating international humanitarian law. Journalists are granted protection equivalent to civilians under Article 79 of the Third Geneva Convention, a treaty affording rights and protection to non-combatants in the midst of war.
Threats of violence have heightened the fears of journalists, who attempt to cover atrocities committed against the Palestinian people. On Oct. 25, Al Jazeera’s Bureau Chief, Wael Dahdouh, received news of an Israeli air raid that killed his wife, son, daughter, and grandson while he was reporting on another air strike that had bombarded in the northern part of the Gaza Strip-the Jabalia refugee camp in Northern Gaza. Journalists in Occupied Palestine must choose between protecting themselves and their families from additional attacks or stepping forward to broadcast deteriorating conditions to the rest of the world. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) released a public statement stating that they could not guarantee the safety of journalists in Gaza because “Hamas deliberately put military operations in the vicinity of journalists and civilians.” However, little evidence has been found to attest to the IDF’s claims.
While covering the war, Palestinian journalists have faced threats on multiple fronts as Israel continues its siege of Gaza. For the majority of the population, Gazans have been forced to flee from the northern part of the strip to the south, toward the Egyptian border. Thousands fled on foot without access to basic resources like water and fuel. The chances of civilians falling victim to dehydration and starvation have thus increased.
Besides the dangers accompanying exposure to the elements, there is the ongoing peril of the bombings themselves. Independent journalist Hind Khoudary wrote about her journey fleeing south. “The people behind [her]were bombed” fifteen minutes after Khoudary had arrived in the south. Reports revealed that evacuation using the recommended “safe route” resulted in the killings of innocent Palestinians. She writes that the IDF targeted civilians with snipers as they walked down the route. Those who managed to arrive in the south successfully have been subjected to continued bombings. The map below shows the reality that more than 3,600 people were killed in areas where Israel had assured civilians were safe to seek refuge.
Days before the extended truce, war coverage throughout the Gaza Strip had grown scarce due to a lack of internet connection. Telecommunication companies ran out of fuel. Deliveries into the besieged territory were restricted at the start of the war. Due to the media blackout in Gaza, Israeli news presents the crisis from a one-sided angle, which notably omits the voices of the Palestinian people. In fact, outside journalists have been restricted from entering Gaza since Oct. 7, which has sparked questions about the intent behind Israel’s military agenda. Is the claim of Israel’s right to self-defense the reason behind the 17,500 civilian deaths in Gaza since Oct. 7? Or is it indicative of a larger pattern of deliberately silencing journalists, and preventing the Western world from acknowledging the ongoing Palestinian genocide?
Israel’s creation of an atmosphere too hostile and dangerous for many to report within is in itself a means of silencing journalists. If journalists cannot safely report on the conditions of war, there is little opportunity to hold governments accountable for their actions. In the case of Israel, a lack of accountability—such as from foreign powers—means that crimes and acts of violence against the Palestinian people will continue to go unchecked.
The removal and displacement of the Palestinian people have persisted since Israel’s inception in 1948. Israel’s attempts to establish legitimacy in the region have resulted in an unrelenting effort to erase the Palestinian people and identity on the magnitude of genocide. There have been numerous attempts by organizations, such as the United Nations, to recognize the genocide and hold Israel accountable, beginning long before Oct. 7. Gaza has been deemed an “open-air prison” with a population of 2.2 million Palestinians living under a 56-year military occupation. The ongoing air, sea, and land blockade in Gaza has forcibly restricted civilians to attain a normal life – as Israel continues their campaign to erase the Palestinian identity.
While all eyes are on Gaza, we must also acknowledge the increased silencing of Palestinians living in the diaspora. Numerous media journalists either have lost their jobs or faced suspension due to voicing their pro-Palestine opinions. New tactics have been employed to silence journalists from sharing their opinions on social media. This does not come as a surprise to pro-Palestinian voices and activists, who are all too familiar with fear-mongering tactics used to censor the Palestinian cause, such as blacklisting initiatives like the Canary Mission. Supporters of Palestinian liberation have also accused the social media platform Instagram of shadowbanning accounts. Meta has since taken down some Instagram stories mentioning Palestine under the guise of upholding community guidelines and rules. This amounts to a form of censorship against the Palestinian resistance movement.
Alongside Gaza, Palestinians living in the West Bank have felt high tensions perpetuated by the Israeli government. Living in an occupied territory, Palestinians have witnessed an increase in overnight raids and arrests made in the areas of Hebron, Jenin, and Nablus. Furthermore, Israel has begun to crack down on censoring Palestinian voices within the country—from radio broadcasts to social media platforms. In Hebron, the headquarters of “Dream Radio” were prevented from broadcasting by the Israeli occupation forces. To continue silencing radio broadcasters, Israel threatened to storm and destroy headquarters if stations did not comply.
The lives of many Gazan reporters and media journalists continue to be at risk of Israel’s bombardments. Despite continued threats of censorship, many have taken to social media to illustrate the reality Gazans face. Independent freelance journalists and photographers have prevailed as a beacon of light, both to Palestinians living in Gaza and those living in the diaspora abroad. Their reports deliver an uncensored view of the chaos unfolding in Gaza, allowing for the reassurance of the Palestinian people that their strife will not go unacknowledged.
But they also work to showcase that life can and does exist in Gaza. Life does not revolve around death. The resilience and strength of the Palestinian people continue to prevail in times of unthinkable horror and humanize a group that Western media have so strongly condemned.
In times of devastation, watching the events unfold through our screens serves as a call to action to propel liberation from a diasporic lens, participating in protests creates a sense of urgency in the West, putting more pressure on governmental powers capable of causing change and condemning the atrocities committed by Israel.
Motaz Azaiza, Plestia Alaqad, Saleh Aljafarawi, and Ahmed Hijazee are some of the brave journalists who share their stories and perspectives about the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people. Without their efforts to report on the unfolding genocide, little would be known of the current reality of Palestinian life in Gaza. However, journalists can only do so much without risking the safety of themselves and their loved ones. If there is any hope for Palestinians in Gaza to spread their message to the outside world, the safety of journalists must be ensured.
Say their names; they are not numbers.
Ibrahim Mohammad Lafi
Mohamed Fayez Abu Matar
Yousef Maher Dawas
Khalil Abu Aathra
Mohammed Imad Labad
Ahmed Abu Mahdi
Yasser Abu Namous
Majd Fadl Arandas
Mohammed Abu Hatab
Mohamed Al Jaja
Mohamed Abu Hassira
Yahya Abu Manih
Amro Salah Abu Hayah
Mostafa El Sawaf
Alaa Taher Al-Hassanat
Mohamed Nabil Al-Zaq
Mohamed Mouin Ayyash
These are the journalists who have been killed by Israel’s attacks on Gaza since October 7, 2023.
Daniah Nuseibeh (she/her) is a first-year MA student in Near Eastern Studies, with a concentration in International Relations. She graduated from Wayne State University in 2022, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science & Global Studies, with a minor in Peace & Conflict Studies. For her senior thesis, she conducted research on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic within the context of the Palestinian occupation. At NYU, she aspires to further her research on the Palestinian Diaspora’s struggle and settler colonialism in the MENA region. In her free time, Daniah enjoys reading, spending time with friends, and exploring more of the city.