In a strongly-worded statement on Thursday, five UN rights experts expressed deep concern over the escalating number of journalists killed in the Gaza war, highlighting what they perceive as a deliberate Israeli strategy to stifle critical reporting.
According to United Nations reports, at least 122 journalists and media workers have lost their lives, with numerous others injured in the Gaza Strip since the outbreak of hostilities following Hamas’s deadly attacks inside Israel on October 7.
The independent experts, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, but not speaking on behalf of the United Nations, decried the heavy toll journalists are paying for merely performing their duties. They stressed the alarming situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly Gaza, where journalists, despite being clearly identified as press, have faced attacks.
The experts asserted that the pattern of killings, injuries, and detentions indicates a deliberate strategy by Israeli forces to obstruct the media and suppress critical reporting, labeling such targeted attacks as war crimes. Furthermore, they expressed serious concerns about Israel’s refusal to allow foreign media into Gaza unless embedded with Israeli forces, citing the hindrance it poses to the right to information.
Highlighting the severe disruptions to the internet and restrictions on journalists accessing Gaza, the experts emphasized that these actions impede both the people of Gaza and the outside world from receiving accurate information. They urged international courts to scrutinize this dangerous pattern of attacks and called for accountability for crimes against journalists.
The conflict, triggered by Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, resulted in around 1,140 deaths, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. The experts also pointed out that 250 hostages were seized by militants, with Israel claiming that 132 remain in Gaza, including at least 29 believed to have been killed. The Israeli response, a comprehensive air, land, and sea offensive, has reportedly claimed the lives of over 27,000 people in Gaza, predominantly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.
Amid these developments, AFP journalists have staged a global show of support for their colleagues in Gaza, who have been prevented from leaving since the commencement of the war. The UN experts’ call for attention to this issue and their condemnation of the attacks on journalists underscore the gravity of the situation, urging the international community to address the broader implications of such actions.