Palestinian journalist and correspondent of Palestine TV in Gaza, Salman al-Basheer, took off his PPE gear on air, as he mourned his colleague, Mohammed Abu Hatab, who was killed with his family in an Israeli airstrike on his home in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis on November 2.
“This gear does not protect us. It is just a slogan that we wear, it doesn’t protect any journalist at all. We are all victims here, live on air. We lose souls one by one, without a price. We are all martyrs, with different timings that’s it. We wait for our turn. Our colleague Mohammed Abu Hatab was just here 30 minutes ago,” Basheer said as he broke into tears on air.
Since October 7, when the Islamist militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented attack against Israel, a total of 37 journalists and media workers have been killed, according to a report by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, 32 of which were based in Gaza.
It is unclear whether all of these journalists were covering the conflict at the time of their deaths, but the Committee to Protect Journalists has included them in our count as the organisation investigates their circumstances.
“Those in Gaza, in particular, have paid, and continue to pay, an unprecedented toll and face exponential threats. Many have lost colleagues, families, and media facilities, and have fled seeking safety when there is no safe haven or exit,” CPJ said.
Israel, which says 1,400 have been killed and nearly 240 taken as hostages by Hamas, launched an unprecedented military campaign against the besieged enclave. Since then, more than 10,000 people including 4,000 children, have been killed, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza.
Israeli authorities have told international news agencies Reuters and AFP that it cannot guarantee the safety of their crews in Gaza, Reuters reported on October 28.
“The IDF is targeting all Hamas military activity throughout Gaza," an IDF letter to Reuters said, adding that Hamas deliberately put military operations "in the vicinity of journalists and civilians." Hamas has continuously denied these accusations.
Gaza-based TV correspondent, Nour Swirki, anticipated a harsh Israeli response following Hamas attack on October 7.
“But I never expected it would be like this, never. This time is the most violent, more violent than all the military escalations by Israel. This one is a full-scale war,” she said.
The 35-year-old mother of two has lived all her life in the besieged strip and witnessed all Israeli aggressions since 2008.
“I lost count of how many wars I witnessed,” she said.
Her major concern as a journalist is safety. Continued bombardment of residential neighbourhoods, hospitals, offices, and all civilian institutions, makes it very difficult for journalists to continue operating.
Like hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were ordered by Israel to leave the northern parts of Gaza, Swirki was displaced from central Gaza City to the south in Khan Younis.
As Israel continued to cut communications, electricity, water, fuel and food supplies to Gaza, the mission of journalists like her is nearly impossible, she said.
“I don’t think there is a journalist currently reporting on the story of this country while it is under occupation,” she said.
“There are wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and in Ukraine, but there is nowhere else in the world where there is an ongoing occupation for decades like this.”
Bureau chief of al-Jazeera office in Gaza, Wael al-Dahdouh, was reporting on an Israeli airstrike when he received a phone call on air to let him know that his wife, two children and his grandchild were all victims of the same exact attack he was reporting on.
Rushing to the hospital, he kneeled next to the dead body of his son. “Do they want to take revenge via our sons?” he said.
With the heavy toll of the war in Gaza, Swirki says she has lost hope.
“I wish my children had foreign nationalities. I would have evacuated them.”