A report from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) released on Friday highlights a shocking death toll among Palestinian journalists in Gaza, surpassing the mortality rate of combat soldiers in recent wars.
According to the IFJ, of the approximately 1,000 journalists working in Gaza at the start of the Israel-Gaza conflict, 75 have been killed, equating to a 7.5% mortality rate. This figure contrasts starkly with the death rates of U.S. soldiers in past conflicts, as reported by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs: 1.4% in Korea, 1.7% in Vietnam, 1.8% in World War II, and 0.06% in Desert Storm, the organization said. The American War Library notes a 5% mortality rate for U.S. Marines in Vietnam, the highest among combat soldiers.
Journalists in Gaza, armed with cameras and notepads, are facing a severe threat from one of the world’s most sophisticated armies, IFJ said. It added that Unlike soldiers, who are trained to evade injury and can expect prompt medical attention, journalists lack such support. A recent incident involved Gazan photographer Mohammed Balousha, who, after being shot, saved his own life using a blast trauma pack supplied by the IFJ, highlighting the precarious conditions they face.
The toll on journalists extends beyond deaths. Many have lost homes, family members, and lack essentials like food, water, and fuel. They carry their equipment on their shoulders, providing the world’s only insight into life in Gaza due to restrictions on international reporters.
Many Gazan journalists believe they are targeted by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), with some reporting threats from callers claiming to represent the IDF.
Efforts to address these dangers include calls for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to broaden its inquiry into the IDF’s treatment of journalists, sparked by the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May 2022. ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan, who recently met with leaders from the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, is under pressure to conduct a thorough investigation.
Additionally, aid efforts for Gazan journalists are ongoing, with their union, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), being the primary channel for delivering essential supplies. However, getting aid into Gaza is increasingly challenging.
The plight of Gazan journalists is not only a humanitarian crisis but also a severe suppression of free speech. Their continued documentation of the enclave’s situation is crucial, underscoring the need for sustained international support