ICC To Investigate Targeted Killings of Journalists in Gaza
Efforts of Reporters Without Borders For ICC intervention succeed
In a key decision in favour of journalists in Palestine, the International Criminal Court prosecutor has decided to include crimes against journalists in their investigation into the situation in Palestine, said Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
This comes as a result of the complaints that was filed by RSF.
“Journalists are protected by international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, and must not under any circumstances be targeted in the exercise of their important mission," the ICC prosecutor said in a message sent to RSF.
On January 7, the global journalism fraternity mourned the loss of Hamza Dahdouh, the eldest son of Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh, who was killed in an Israeli missile strike in Khan Younis, southern Gaza. Journalist Mustafa Thuraya was also killed in the attack, while a third passenger, journalist Hazem Rajab, was seriously injured.
The decision by the ICC comes as the massacre of journalists continues in Gaza. More than 100 media professionals have been killed in the Gaza Strip since 7 October, including at least 18 in the course of their work as journalists or because of their journalism.
“Only a thorough and independent investigation will make it possible to accurately establish war crimes and take concrete action to combat impunity for the perpetrators. We hope that it moves forward quickly. Until then, we will continue to work not only to obtain justice for the journalists killed but also to protect those who continue to keep us informed despite the risks incurred,” said Antoine Bernard, Advocacy and Assistance Director in a statement.
“RSF’s objectives and actions must be supported and are of crucial importance in Gaza and elsewhere,” the CC prosecutor’s office said to RSF.
The whole reason why the world has woken to the heinous war crimes committed by Israel forces on innocent civilians in Gaza is due to the bravery of Palestinian journalists who are putting their life on the line.
These journalists have been covering the violence unleashed on Gaza not just now but before October 7 as well. These journalists who are not only being killed but are also losing their families and continue to be on ground despite that.
One of the key figures in Gaza and even globally is Wael Dahdouh, the man who is now known to have redefined journalism.
Besides the recent death of his eldest son, in October, Dahdouh’s mother, brother, sister and nephew were killed in an Israeli air raid. His father Wael was injured in a drone attack last month, which killed Al Jazeera journalist and cameraman Samer Abudaqa.
Dahdouh himself was also injured when his cameraman Samer Abudaqa was killed. Meanwhile, Hamza 27, his son who was killed on January 7, was a journalist like his father.
Speaking from the cemetery where his son had been laid to rest, Wael seemed subdued yet resigned, saying he was one of the droves of people in Gaza today who are bidding bitter farewells to their loved ones every day.
He vowed to remain on his path of showing the world what is happening in Gaza, despite the pain of one loss after another.
“Hamza was everything to me, the eldest boy, he was the soul of my soul … these are the tears of parting and loss, the tears of humanity,” he said.
Dahdouh continues to work relentlessly despite suffering such a huge loss.
One other major journalistic figure that has emerged from Gaza is 24-year-old who has been covering Israel’s aggression in the city since October 7.
With more than 18 million followers on Instagram, Motaz has been showing the world brutal visuals from Gaza. His compelling visual telling has resonated with the people globally who say they have grown to attach with the young man.
“If anything happens to Motaz, we are going to do something serious,” a user on Instagram made a video.
In a recent interview with Indian journalist Rana Ayyub, Khoudary talked about how what is happening in Gaza is a “nightmare”.
“I think every time I write, it may be my last. And it wasn’t just a tweet. The first time I wrote this may be the last was after the Israeli forces targeted a hospital. It was a terrible night,” she said.
Khoudary has broken down in front of the camera as her friends were killed day after day. She is one of the most prominent journalism voices in Gaza. The brave journalist decided to stay back in Gaza even as her mother and husband left for Egypt after they were allowed to leave. The café owned and run by her husband was demolished by an Israeli air strike. So, was her house.
“I would never leave my people [to] live this on [their] own,” Khoudary said. “I want to experience everything because when I report about starvation, I went through starvation. When I report about being injured or being homeless or being displaced or losing a great person or the pain, I live this. I went through this. I’m telling the story about my people but I’m also part of the story.”
Another powerhouse journalist Noor Harazen has shown the atrocities Palestinians are going through in Gaza. In an emotional video she shared recently, she talked about how she met her family after almost a month as she has to keep them away from her due to safety concerns. In an emotional video, her daughter was seen clinging to her and crying wanting to stop her from leaving.
“I hope you don’t get killed,” one of her daughters said, clutching her.
The genocide unleashed has forced many journalists to leave their families behind and cover the violence keeping them out of danger.
The massacre in Gaza has introduced the world to a lot of brilliant journalists, many known, many not so much but are continuing to do all the work.
Ismail al Dahdouh a journalist from Gaza has been at the forefront and has showing the world what is happening in Gaza. Displaced a couple times and brushed with death, Jood a couple of days back shared a heart wrenching message saying he won’t be covering anymore death in Gaza as no one is doing anything to stop it despite the world witnessing the genocide online.
“I am announcing the end of my coverage of this ongoing aggression. We documented more than enough of crimes, massacres, and genocides that we are facing for the last 96 days. Sadly, there was not a strong action to end this aggression that devoured citizens, journalists, medical workers, activists and even stone and tree. We were sentenced to execution and each one of us are waiting their turn…” he wrote on Instagram.
He added, “I survived death multiple times, and put [myself] in danger to show you the situation on the ground, and I believe that’s enough for now.”
The Citizen spoke to a few journalists on ground in Gaza who shared their difficulties on ground. Insisting that they would not compromise and continue to write and show the truth.
These journalists are lesser-known journalists who are documenting the most important events in history.
Abood Alsayed, a photojournalist in Gaza spoke of how Palestinians believe in life. His story on how a Palestinian couple got married amidst the chaos of violence went viral.
“We are people who love joy because we have been in wars all our lives,” Alsayed responded to a comment by The Citizen.
Dua Tuaima another Palestinian journalist in Gaza has also been covering the genocide since the beginning. She spoke to The Citizen briefly sharing her anguish. “It is hard for me. I hope this ends soon. We are glad for the prayers and hearts with us,” she said.
There are hundreds of journalists covering the violence in Gaza, which has also exposed them to the vulnerabilities as Israel forces target journalist on the line of duty or their homes killing their families.
“Journalists in Gaza face particularly high risks as they try to cover the conflict during the Israeli ground assault, including devastating Israeli airstrikes, disrupted communications, supply shortages and extensive power outages,” CPJ said.
There are journalists who had to flee the violence to save themselves and their families.
Plestia Alaqad, a Palestinian citizen journalist with 4.7 million Instagram followers, fled to Egypt in November out of fear of her family being targeted over her work.
On an Instagram post, she had posted a poem she wrote in Arabic to describe the emotional toll the violence has taken on her.
“People used to ask me how am I holding up or not crying in my videos and this is the answer,” Alaqad wrote in the caption. “I always felt and I still feel that I don’t have time to express my emotions..crying or having time to express your emotions during war is a privilege.”