The news agency Thursday Reuters he confirmed that one of its journalists was killed and six reporters were injured in Lebanon on 13 October. The journalists were filming to document the clashes on the border between Lebanon and Israel involving the Israeli army and militiamen from the Shiite paramilitary group Hezbollah. Mutual attacks have become very frequent since the war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7, as Hezbollah is supported by Iran and therefore Israel’s enemy.
The journalists were hit by some projectiles launched by two Israeli tanks. The journalist killed was called Issam Abdallah and was 37 years old, while among the most seriously injured was the news agency’s photographer France Media Agency (AFP) Christina Assi, 28 years old. To ascertain the dynamics of the attacks Reuters He said he spoke with more than 30 Israeli government and defense officials, military experts, forensic investigators, doctors and witnesses, and watched hours of footage and hundreds of photographs released by various local news organizations.
Since the beginning of the war, being a journalist in the Gaza Strip and neighboring territories has become very dangerous. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an association founded with the aim of defending press freedom and the rights of journalists throughout the world, between 7 October and 8 December in the Gaza Strip and in the areas on the border between Israel and Lebanon They were killed 63 journalists and media workers: 56 Palestinians, 4 Israelis and 3 Lebanese. Most were killed by Israeli bombings that hit much of the Strip. Another 11 journalists were injured, three were missing and 19 were arrested. These are very high numbers, considering for example that in almost two years of war in Ukraine they have been killed 17 journalistsagain according to CPJ research.
Additionally, CPJ said it had received several other, as yet unconfirmed, reports of other journalists missing, killed, injured or threatened. It is not clear whether all the journalists killed were actually working to cover the war, but the Committee is investigating to clarify the causes and dynamics of the events.
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The Gaza Strip has become a particularly difficult territory from which to work to report on the situation and developments of the war. International journalists have no longer been able to enter the Strip since October 7, when the Israeli government closed the Erez crossing, previously also used by the press. Therefore, only local reporters or the few correspondents who were already present before the Hamas attack remained in the field: in some cases these were permanent employees of large journalistic organisations, such as AP, BBC e Al Jazeerabut more often they are local contributors to the international media that are defined stringer.
In addition to their personal safety and that of their families, journalists must deal with practical problems that complicate their work. For example, since the beginning of the war in Gaza, internet and telephone connections have been working intermittently, and on some occasions have been completely cut off for hours or even entire days. Even electricity, needed to charge phones, cameras and computers, is in short supply mainly due to lack of fuel. Like all the inhabitants of the Strip, journalists also have to obtain basic necessities such as food and water every day, and find a relatively safe place to shelter from the bombings.
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In the last two months the offices of various news agencies in the Gaza Strip have been damaged by bombings: on November 3 AFP published videos and photos of its offices in the city of Gaza, in the north of the Strip, visibly damaged by an “explosion”.
“Journalists are civilians doing important work in a time of crisis, and should not be considered military targets by warring parties,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa coordinator. «They are making great sacrifices to cover this conflict, and especially the journalists who are in Gaza have paid, and continue to pay, a very high price and are exposed to enormous risks. Many lost colleagues, family members and offices, and had to flee for their lives.” According to the Geneva Conventions, adopted in 1949, journalists working in war zones they must be considered civilians, and therefore should not be involved in fighting.
The @AFP bureau in the Gaza Strip, which has been relentlessly bombed by Israel, was significantly damaged by a strike on the building, according to a staff member who visited the site. [1/5] pic.twitter.com/a5sO7NrN38
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) November 3, 2023
Starting from November 4, some international journalists were able to enter the Gaza Strip following the Israeli army, with the practice of so-called “embedded journalism”, which has existed for decades and is often applied in war contexts. These were short visits, generally lasting a few hours, on board armored vehicles and always under the supervision of the army. On November 17 some journalists from the New York Times they could visit some areas of the al Shifa hospital, the largest in the city of Gaza, under which, according to Israel, the main Hamas operations center was located (an accusation denied by the militiamen and the hospital management but confirmed partly by US intelligence). However, the journalists were not free to move independently, and after the end of the visit they had to leave the Strip. On November 11th also the correspondent of Republic Fabio Tonacci had entered the Strip following the Israeli army.
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