NUJ condemns unprecedented death-toll of journalists in Gaza

The National Union of Journalists has today reiterated its horror at the mounting and unprecedented death toll of journalists in the Israel-Palestine conflict, with the number of journalists killed in Gaza, Israel and Lebanon to date standing at 67, according to the International Federation of Journalists. Many others are missing and feared dead.

The vast majority of casualties are Palestinian journalists who continue to work round the clock in the face of ongoing Israeli air strikes, reporting the impact of the conflict on the people of Gaza. At a time when access to information and news is vital, the ability of journalists to report safely is more important than ever yet Israeli military commanders have refused to take explicit steps to protect journalists covering the war in Gaza, action that is in breach of their obligations under international law.

The NUJ continues to press the International Criminal Court to expedite its investigation. Formal complaints were lodged in April 2022 and September 2022, including dossiers of evidence that demonstrate systematic targeted attacks of journalists in Palestine by Israeli forces. With increasing anecdotal evidence of further targeting of journalists in this conflict, it is vital that the ICC now acts decisively.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “We continue to stand in solidarity with our sister union, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, who are working tirelessly to support journalists in Gaza and the West Bank. As of this week, the death toll of journalists over the past two months now stands higher than the total media casualties during 20 years of conflict in Vietnam. Gaza’s journalists remain the only ones providing coverage of what is happening in their neighbourhoods, a responsibility for which they continue to pay a terrible price. Despite our empathy and solidarity it is hard to truly imagine how difficult it must be for our Palestinian colleagues to face each day – to continue working and reporting on events as they unfold, whilst at the same time enduring the personal impact the conflict is having on them and their loved ones. Like the rest of the civilian population, countless journalists have been displaced and forced to leave their homes, many have seen family and friends killed, all are struggling to cope in an environment where food, water and basic provisions are in scarce supply and prices have shot up. Yet still they carry on working, doing all they can to keep the eyes of the world focussed on the devastation being wrought. Ongoing support from fellow journalists around the world is more important than ever.

“The acts of terror carried out by Hamas on 7th October, redolent of pogroms that should be consigned to history, were despicable. The reports of targeted sexual violence from witnesses and women survivors are horrific. The collective punishment and bombardment of Palestinian civilians is barbaric. All hostages should be immediately released with a mutual cessation of violence and a permanent ceasefire declared. Urgent aid and support to Palestinian civilians must also be prioritised. Most critically, the slaughter that we have seen, from 7th October to this day, should trigger an unprecedented international effort and commitment to negotiate and secure a just, sustainable peace and a future of respectful coexistence – one that delivers security, dignity and a future for all. In this future a mutual respect for free expression and unfettered reporting should be a key foundation.”

The NUJ continues to work with the International Federation of Journalists to offer practical support and help, including with ongoing fundraising efforts for the IFJ’s Safety Fund, which many NUJ members and branches from across the UK and Ireland have responded to alongside a central donation of £20,000 from the union.

NUJ members mourn slain journalists killed in conflict zones worldwide at vigil in Dublin, November 2023.