The Association of European Journalists is shocked and deeply dismayed at the reported deaths of 13 media workers in Gaza during Israel’s military action which began in early July. The AEJ expects the international community to investigate possible war crimes in which journalists are or have been victims, regardless of the alleged identity of those who may have committed them.
The Association reminds all concerned that information provided by journalists and news media during conflicts is of vital importance to the affected population as well as to the wider international community, including the UN Security Council and other responsible world bodies.
The AEJ also calls for the full authority of the United Nations to be used without delay to protect the safety of all journalists who report on the conflict over Gaza. The AEJ fully endorses the statement made on 3 August by UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova,
in which she deplored the deaths of media workers and damage to media facilities in Gaza, and stated that the civilian status of journalists in conflict situations must be recognised and journalists must be protected when reporting from the scene. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has identified 13 media workers who it says were killed in the Gaza region up to 5 August. The UN Security Council’s Resolution 1738, adopted unanimously in 2006, states that attacks intentionally directed against civilians in situations of armed conflict constitute war crimes; and that journalists, media professionals and associated personnel engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians, provided that they take no action adversely affecting their status as civilians.
It is a matter of concern that foreign journalists entering the Gaza strip have been obliged by the Israeli authorities to sign a waiver renouncing their right to file a lawsuit in case they are injured or killed there.
We note that Al Jazeera English reported that Palestinian journalist Hamed Shehab was killed on 9 July when the car he was driving on a busy street in Gaza city was hit by an Israeli missile, and that the car carried clear Press identification markings. Several other Palestinian journalists were killed together with other civilians when heavily populated areas of the Gaza strip came under attack from the Israeli Defense Forces.
Israeli government officials and Hamas representatives have each accused the other side of intimidating journalists to prevent them from reporting on acts that might be considered as war crimes.