At least six Palestinian journalists killed as Israel bombs Gaza

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At least six Palestinian journalists have been killed in a matter of days, amid Israel’s ongoing shelling of the besieged Gaza strip, media networks and press freedom monitors have said.

Journalist Saeed al-Taweel, editor-in-chief of Al-Khamsa News website, and two other members of the press were killed early on Tuesday as they went to film a building that Israel would soon bomb in Gaza City.

“Unfortunately, they have sent a warning notice to the Hiji building just now that it will be bombed,” al-Taweel said in his last words, shortly before being killed, according to a recording obtained by Al Jazeera. “The area has been evacuated entirely. Women, men, the elderly, kids have all completely fled the area.”

Al-Taweel, Mohammed Subh and Hisham Alnwajha had been standing at a safe distance, hundreds of metres from the stated target. But the air attack instead hit a different building, much closer to them.

Alnwajha suffered serious injuries and was admitted to the intensive care room at Al-Shifa Medical Complex, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

The crew was wearing flak jackets and helmets clearly identifying themselves as members of the press.

Funerals for Subh and al-Taweel were held hours later at a hospital in Gaza City.

As a tribute to their work, the iconic helmets worn by media workers were placed on their bodies, which were covered in white sheets.

Mourners, including colleagues, carry the bodies of Palestinian journalists Mohammed Soboh and Saeed al-Taweel, who were killed when an Israeli missile hit a building while they were outside reporting, at a hospital in Gaza City.Mourners, including colleagues, carry the bodies of Palestinian journalists Mohammed Subh and Saeed al-Taweel in Gaza City [Arafat Barbakh/Reuters]

Two other journalists, Ibrahim Mohammad Lafi and Mohammad Jarghoun, were shot dead while reporting on Saturday, according to the Palestinian press freedom group MADA and the Journalist Support Committee (JSC), a non-profit that promotes media rights in the Middle East.

Lafi, a photographer for Ain Media, was at the Gaza Strip’s Beit Hanoon crossing, known as Erez to Israelis, as Israel and Hamas locked in a new cycle of escalating violence.

Jarghoun, a reporter with Smart Media, was to the east of Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, freelance journalist Mohammad el-Salhi was shot dead on the border to the east of Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported on Saturday.

Two Palestinian photographers, Nidal al-Wahidi from the Al-Najah channel and Haitham Abdelwahid from the Ain Media agency, have been reported missing since Saturday.

Ibrahim Qanan, a correspondent for Al-Ghad channel, was injured by shrapnel in the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, MADA said.

The Palestinian group denounced “the persistence of the Israeli occupation forces in committing more serious crimes and attacks against journalists and media outlets in Palestine”.

Sherif Mansour of the CPJ called on “all sides to remember that journalists are civilians and should not be targeted”. “Accurate reporting is critical during times of crisis and the media has a vital role to play in bringing news from Gaza and Israel to the world.”

The CPJ called for an investigation into el-Salhi’s death.

About 1,300 people on both sides of the conflict have died since Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, launched a surprise attack on Israeli territory on Saturday.

Israeli shelling has also destroyed the homes of Rami al-Sharafi, the director of Zaman Radio, and Al-Quds Today broadcaster Basil Khair al-Din, MADA reported. Media offices, including the headquarters of Al-Ayyam newspaper in the Palestine Tower, Fadel Shanaa Foundation, Shehab Agency, and Gaza FM Radio were also hit, the group said.

The organisation called for an end to the “impunity” enjoyed by Israeli authorities as “the only key to putting an end to the murders of journalists and … attacks that target freedoms and media outlets in Palestine”.

Members of the press have also reportedly been targeted by authorities in Israel.

According to CPJ, on Saturday a television crew for the privately owned Sky News Arabia said they were assaulted and their equipment damaged by Israeli police in the southern city of Ashkelon.

The channel’s correspondent, Firas Lutfi, said Israeli police aimed rifles at his head, forced him to remove his clothes, confiscated the team’s phones, and made them leave the area under police escort.

Israeli authorities did not reply to CPJ’s requests for comment.

The organisation in May published Deadly Pattern, a report into the Israeli practice of targeting Palestinian journalists.

“No one has ever been charged or held responsible for these deaths,” the organisation said.

The May 11, 2022 killing of Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh is part of this “deadly, decades-long pattern”, it said.

Over 22 years, CPJ has documented at least 20 journalist killings by members of the Israeli army.

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