Press, rights groups demand protections for journalists in Israel-Gaza war

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President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stand, shaking hands, in front of the American and Israeli flags.

President Joe Biden, pictured here with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel in 2016, should use the U.S.'s influence to protect journalists and press freedom in Gaza. Vice President Joe Biden visit to Israel March 2016 by U.S. Embassy Jerusalem is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

At least 79 journalists and media workers have been killed in the Israel-Gaza war: four by Hamas and its affiliates during the Oct. 7 attacks and at least 75 since, almost all by the Israeli military. Most recently, Al Jazeera journalist Hamza al-Dahdouh and freelance journalist Mustafa Thuraya were killed when Israeli soldiers deliberately targeted a car in which the journalists were traveling on Jan. 7.

Get Notified. Take Action.

Today, Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) and a coalition of press freedom and human rights organizations sent a letter to President Joe Biden (available here) urging his administration to do more to protect journalists’ ability to safely and freely report on the conflict.

In addition to FPF, groups also signing the letter include the Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom Watch, Human Rights Watch, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, and Reporters Without Borders.

“The killing of so many journalists in so brief a period of time is shocking and horrific. It has obvious and profound implications for the ability of the public, including the American public, to be informed about a conflict with local, regional, and global implications. We are writing to entreat you to act immediately and decisively to promote the conditions for safe and unrestricted reporting on the hostilities,” the letter states.

“The sheer number of journalists killed and injured in the war is shameful,” said FPF Deputy Director of Advocacy Caitlin Vogus. “The Biden administration has a moral and legal obligation to ensure that Israel protects reporters, not only because they’re civilians, but also because of the vital role they play in informing the public.”

“The Biden administration has been all talk when it comes to journalists killed by the Israeli Defense Forces,” said FPF Director of Advocacy Seth Stern. “The Biden administration says it cares deeply about journalists’ freedom to cover the war but has failed to demand Israel ensure journalists’ safety or hold it accountable when it doesn’t.”

In addition to decrying the deaths of journalists, the letter also emphasizes that Israel and Egypt must provide international journalists with access to Gaza.

“International journalists have been almost entirely shut out of Gaza unless they agree to IDF escorts and restrictions on their reporting,” said Vogus. “Local journalists have done an admirable job covering the war, especially in the ever-present face of death. But international journalists — especially from countries whose citizens fund the IDF — need to be able to cover the biggest news on the planet safely and freely.”

The full letter is available here.

If you are a member of the press and wish to conduct an interview with a Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) expert, email [email protected].

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