SPJ NorCal Condemns Killing, Targeting of Journalists Reporting on Gaza Conflict

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024

The Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists joins in condemning the killing of at least 85 journalists and media workers since Oct. 7. We call on the United States, the United Nations and its members, and other international judicial bodies to guarantee the safety of those reporting on the ground and accountability for the deaths of these journalists.

In its 30 years of tracking violence against journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports that the war unfolding in Gaza has been the deadliest period for journalists. This should alarm all of us.

While reporting in war zones is inherently risky, the scale of fallen journalists and the treatment of those still alive raises deep concern and calls for accountability. Palestinian journalists have been killed at a rate of one each day, the Washington Post reported in November. 

CPJ also found multiple instances of journalists being targeted in Gaza and the West Bank, including 25 arrests of reporters, in addition to assaults, censorship, and threats. 

In November, an Israeli minister made unsubstantiated claims that journalists knew in advance of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, and should be treated like terrorists. Days later, freelance photographer Yasser Qudih, who was named in the broader accusations, found his home struck by projectiles, killing eight of his family members, according to Reuters.

Reporters Without Borders, which filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court to investigate the deaths of Palestinian journalists as war crimes, also raised concerns about the loose wording in a terrorism law passed by Israeli legislators in November posing a threat to press freedom. The same month, Israel’s communication minister proposed sanctioning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which has aired criticisms of the war on Gaza.   

As members of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism community wrote in a December statement, journalists play a crucial role in conveying facts in the fog of war. The events since Oct. 7, in particular, have spurred intense conversation and political activity all over the world — and as misinformation skyrockets online. The United Nations grants protections for journalists and media workers and condemns attacks against them.

Many of the surviving journalists reporting on the ground — a dwindling number with each passing day — have done so while experiencing tremendous personal loss. Wael Dahdouh, Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief, lost his son, a fellow reporter, to an Israeli strike in January after his wife, 7-year-old daughter, 15-year-old son and 1-year-old grandchild were killed in October. Before being evacuated for medical treatment in January due to injuries sustained while reporting, Dahdouh consistently vowed to continue doing his job and share with the rest of the world what is happening.

The targeting of journalists by government and military leaders must be condemned in the strongest terms. The lives of journalists and the ability to freely report must be protected everywhere. We urge immediate action to do so. 

The full list of fallen colleagues can be found here

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We urge journalists who have been experiencing worsening mental health during the war to seek support. You are not alone. Whether you are in our region and have recently covered the war or are watching it from afar, resources identified by SPJ National and SPJ NorCal can help. 

The basics on Israel, Gaza, Palestine and Hamas for local journalists (Poynter) 

Media Resource Guide (Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association)

Journalists, nonstop coverage of war and violence affects your mental health (Poynter) 

Trauma and Journalism Handbook (DART Center for Journalism and Trauma) 

Working with Traumatic Imagery (DART Center for Journalism and Trauma)

Online Harassment Field Manual (PEN America)

Journalist Safety and Emergencies Resources (Committee to Protect Journalists)