Israel’smilitaryhas told international news organisations Reuters and Agence France Presse thatitcannotguaranteethesafetyof theirjournalistsoperatingintheGazaStrip, underIsraelibombardment and siege for almost three weeks.
Gaza, a Palestinian enclave run by the militant group Hamas, has been under bombardment since Oct. 7 when Hamas gunmen burst through theGazaborder into Israel and killed some 1,400 people.Gaza’s health ministrysaysaround 7,000 people have been killed byIsraelistrikes.
The Israel Defense Forces wrote to Reuters and AFP this week after they had sought assurances that theirjournalistsinGazawould not be targeted byIsraelistrikes.
“The IDF is targeting all Hamasmilitaryactivity throughoutGaza,” the IDF letter said, adding that Hamas deliberately putmilitaryoperations “inthe vicinity ofjournalistsand civilians”.
The IDF also noted thatitshigh-intensity strikes on Hamas targets could cause damage to surrounding buildings and that Hamas rockets could also misfire and kill people insideGaza.
“Under these circumstances, we cannotguaranteeyour employees’safety, and strongly urge you to take all necessary measures for theirsafety,” the IDF letter concluded.
Hamas did not immediately comment when asked about the IDF’s allegation thatitputmilitaryoperations near wherejournalistsinGazaare known to be based.
Reuters could not verify how many other news organizations operatinginGazahad received the same letter from the IDF.
The IDF did not have any immediate comment.
Reuters and AFP said they were very concerned about thesafetyofjournalistsinGaza.
“The situation on the ground is dire, and the IDF’s unwillingness to give assurances about thesafetyof our staff threatens their ability to deliver the news about this conflict without fear of being injured or killed,” Reuters saidina statementinresponse to receiving the Israelmilitaryletter.
AFP Global News Director Phil Chetwynd said his news organisation had received the same letter.
“We areinan incredibly precarious position andit’s important that the world understands that there is a large team ofjournalistsworkinginextremely dangerous conditions,” Chetwynd said.
The Committee to ProtectJournalistssaysat least 27journalistshave been killed since the war began, mostlyinGazabut alsoinIsrael and southern Lebanon.
A Reuters videojournalistwas killed and six otherjournalistsinjuredinsouthern Lebanon on Oct. 13 when missiles fired from the direction of Israel struck them, according to a Reuters videographer who was at the scene.
As of Oct. 27, according to CPJ’s latest update, 22 Palestinians, fourIsraelisand one Lebanese have been killed.
(Published 28 October 2023, 02:06 IST)