During the recent War on Gaza, a disproportionate number of civilians – many of them children – were killed in attacks by the Israeli Defense Forces. But there is another casualty of war which has received surprisingly little international attention. Since the bombing raids began, 17 journalists have been killed in Gaza, prompting calls for war crimes charges to be brought against the State of Israel and those involved in carrying out this war.
For example, back on July 9, a driver for the local agency Media 24, Hamid Shihab, died when his car was bombed by an IDF air strike. The car was clearly marked as press but it was hit by an Israeli strike anyway.
Then, on July 20, Khaled Hamad, a cameraman for the local Continue Production Films, was killed by Israeli shelling in the Shijaiyah neighborhood.
A cameraman for the Hamas-run al-Aqsa TV, Sameh al-Aryan, and two staff working for the Palestine Network for Press and Media, Rami Rayan and Mohammed al-Deiri, were killed by the IDF who said they were “legitimate” targets since they were “Hamas.”
An investigation led by Human Rights Watch concluded on July 22 that IDF strikes on journalists are one of many “apparent violations” of international law. The IDF has even acknowledged that they targeted journalists and media buildings, saying in a letter to The New York Times, by IDF’s Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, that: “Such terrorists, who hold cameras and notebooks in their hands, are no different from their colleagues who fire rockets aimed at Israeli cities and cannot enjoy the rights and protection afforded to legitimate journalists.”
Lt. Col. Leibovich’s interpretation is completely baseless in terms of international law. Journalists are journalists, regardless of who their employer is. They do not become “terrorists” just because their paycheck is cut by Hamas. It is only if a journalist directly take part in hostilities that they lose their protected status. Thus, the IDF letter to The New York Times is an open admission of war crimes.
Here is a full, current list of those journalists who have been killed by the IDF while working in Gaza:
1. Hamid Abdullah Shehab – “Media 24″company.
2. Najla Mahmoud Haj – media activist.
3 Khalid Hamad – the “Kontnao” Media Production company.
4. Ziad Abdul Rahman Abu Hin – al-Ketab satellite channel.
5. Ezzat Duheir – Prisoners Radio.
6. Bahauddin Gharib – Palestine TV.
7 Ahed Zaqqout – veteran sports journalist.
8 Ryan Rami – Palestinian Media Network.
9 Sameh Al-Arian – Al-Aqsa TV.
10 Mohammed Daher – Editor in al-Resala paper.
11. Abdullah Vhjan – sports journalist.
12 journalist Khaled Hamada Mqat- Director of Saja news website.
13. freelance journalist Shadi Hamdi Ayyad.
14 photojournalist Mohammed Nur al-Din al-Dairi – works in the Palestinian Network.
15. journalist Ali Abu Afesh – Doha Center for Media.
16 Italian journalist Simone Camille – photographer in the Associated Press.
17. Abdullah fadel Murtaja.
It should be emphasized that killing of journalists and media workers is a violation of international law. This crime must be included in any future investigations into the War on Gaza.
The U.N. Human Rights Council has announced that it has formed an international commission of inquiry into whether war crimes were committed in Gaza.
For their part, the Israel Defense Forces says it will conduct an “internal investigation.”
About the author: M.B. David is the author of several scholarly works on Middle Eastern politics, history and religion, such as People of the Book: What the Religions Named in the Qur’an Can Tell Us About the Earliest Understanding of “Islam” as well as the recently published Sci-Fi novel Sleeper Cell 2240: Memoires of the 21st Century Interplanetary Revolution. He is currently working on his doctorate, writing a dissertation focused on the non-profit Hashlamah Project Foundation and associated global study circles.