Israel is the second most lethal country in the world for journalists after Syria, the watchdog Reporters Without Borders reveals in its just published round-up of violence against journalists for 2014.
Overall, “66 journalists were murdered this year, bringing to 720 the number of journalists killed in connection with their work in the past ten years,” the group states.
Separately it notes that “nineteen citizen-journalists and eleven media workers were killed.”
This was slightly fewer than the total of 71 journalists killed last year. But, Reporters Without Borders says, “The murders are becoming more barbaric and the number of abductions is growing rapidly, with those carrying them out seeking to prevent independent news coverage and deter scrutiny by the outside world.”
At the top of the grim legal table is Syria, where fifteen journalists died. Among the murders there was the highly publicized beheading of American photojournalist James Foley by the group named “Islamic State.”
In second place is “Palestine” – where Reporters Without Borders says seven journalists were killed. But “Palestine” is a misleading term here: all the journalists were killed during the Israeli assault on Gaza.
Reporters Without Borders had reported on 5 August that “twelve Palestinian journalists and one media worker have been killed since the start of Operation Protective Edge” – Israel’s summer attack on the besieged and occupied territory, “seven of them in connection with their work.”
The victims include Khaled Hamad, a 25-year-old videographer from Jabaliya refugee camp. Hamad was filming for a documentary when he was killed by Israeli shells that struck the ambulance he was riding in the Gaza City district of Shujaiya on 20 July. He was among dozens massacred by indiscriminate Israeli shelling in the area.
On 9 July, Israel targeted a civilian car marked with large red stickers that read “TV” to indicate it belonged to media. That attack killed Hamed Shehab, 30, who worked for the Gaza-based news website Media 24.
Rami Rayan of the Palestinian Network for Journalism and Media was killed during the Israeli shelling of a marketplace on 30 July, during what was supposed to be a “humanitarian truce.” Sameh al-Aryan of Al-Aqsa TV died later of wounds from the same attack.
On 13 August, Italian national Simone Camilli and Ali Shehda Abu Afash, an Associated Press video journalist and a freelance Palestinian translator, were killed when left-over ordnance from an Israeli bomb attack went off as Palestinian experts tried to defuse it in northern Gaza.
Israel also deliberately targeted and extrajudicially executed Palestinian journalists during its November 2012 assault on Gaza.
At that time, Human Rights Watch declared that Israel’s deliberate attacks on journalists amounted to “war crimes.”
During this summer’s assault, Israel also specifically targeted media offices. On 29 July, for instance, it bombed an Al-Aqsa TV office in the northeast part of Gaza City. The same day it struck an Al-Aqsa radio office. No one was killed in those attacks, but the offices suffered damage to their media equipment.
It is notable that in its round-up, Reporters Without Borders highlights five specific cases that “marked 2014,” including Foley and Iraqi cameraman Raad Azaoui, both murdered by Islamic State. It also notes the cases of three journalists being persecuted in their respective countries, Saudi Arabia, China and Azerbaijan.
Reporters Without Borders does not name a single Palestinian journalist in its annual round-up, however, despite Israel’s prolific record of murdering them.
As Palestinian journalists Mohammed Omer and Dalia Hatuqa reported, they and their colleagues want accountability for Israel’s killings of media workers.
But amid the international impunity Israel still enjoys, Palestinian journalists can count on no greater protection from Israeli violence than the rest of their people.
- attacks on journalists
- Reporters Without Borders
- Committee to Protect Journalists
- Human Rights Watch
- al-Aqsa TV
- al-aqsa radio
- Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
- Rami Rayan
- Khaled Hamad
- Associated Press
- Saudi Arabia
- Mohammed Omer
- Dalia Hatuqa
- Raad Azaoui
- James Foley
- Gaza City