Israel - Gaza war

How an Israeli media watchdog’s unsubstantiated allegations has put a price on Palestinian journalists’ heads

On Wednesday 8 November the Israeli self-proclaimed and audaciously named media watchdog Honest Reporting suggested that several Gaza-based Palestinian freelance photojournalists, whose coverage of Hamas’ 7 October rampage was used by NYT, Reuters, and AP among others, had been tipped off ahead of the attack.

A day later, Honest Reporting’s executive director admitted that his outfit had no evidence to back up its suggestion. But by then, the harm had been done. On the same day, according to the Jerusalem-based online newspaper The Times of Israel, Israel’s National Information System – a department of the Prime Minister’s Office – stated that “These media people are complicit in crimes against humanity”. And former Israeli defence minister Benjamin Gantz tweeted that “journalists found to have known about the massacre, and still chose to stand as idle bystanders while children were slaughtered – are no different than terrorists and should be treated as such.”

The incident is a chilling reminder of how fast and wide unchecked and entirely baseless insinuations can travel and mutate into apparent truths. In a matter of moments, Honest Reporting’s entirely unsubstantiated allegation had been transformed into an officially sanctioned free pass for killing Palestinian journalists.

In terms of press freedom, this is as severe as it gets. Not only because it puts in even graver danger the people who risk their lives every day to shed light on the brutal realities of Israels unrelenting and indiscriminate attacks on defenceless civilians of all ages. Not only because it undermines the credibility of any and all Palestinian journalists (which is of course the purpose). But also because it is a shockingly callous way of discouraging unfavourable coverage from being produced and shared with the outside world.

As we have repeatedly pointed out over the past month, Israel’s war on Gaza is far and away the deadliest time for journalists in any conflict in recent history. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, since 7th October at least 35 Palestinian journalists have been killed on the job while covering the war, while an unknown number have been injured or lost loved-ones, sometimes losing several members of their immediate family, such as Al Jazeera correspondentWael Dahdouh. The many killings and the destruction of numerous Gazan media outlets have prompted RSF to file a complaint with the International Criminal Court for war crimes against journalists.

Unfortunately, those horrifying figures are the inevitable consequence of a situation where nowhere is safe. Where even hospitals and ambulances are targeted with overwhelming military might, bringing the wrath of revenge down on the heads of terrified civilians, adults and children alike. Where prematurely born babies are dying as the machines their lives depend on simply stop working as electricity falters and water stops flowing.

Israel’s conduct is a disaster for Gaza, for Palestinians and for humanity. Governments that continue to throw around the term “right to self-defence”, even as civilian deaths skyrocket and hospitals are “transformed into scenes of death, devastation, and despair”, must step up and do everything in their power to pressure Israel to stop its deadly rampage.

For there to be the slightest possibility of this to happen, we desperately need eyes and ears on the ground in Gaza. The killings and vilification of Palestinian journalists must end, and it must end now. Only when stories and images of Gaza’s ever-growing graveyards and piles of rubble are allowed to flow and multiply is there a hope of stirring the world’s conscience to a point when half-hearted scolding is turned into effective diplomacy.

This blog was previously featured on as a news piece and changed to a blog format without editorial changes on November 24, 2023.