Five journalists killed, media premises destroyed in Gaza Strip
Five Palestinian journalists are among the hundreds of civilians who have been killed in the military offensive by Hamas and the response by the Israel Defence Forces. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns these crimes and calls on all parties to ensure that journalists are protected in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2222.
Three Palestinian journalists were killed in the Gaza Strip on 10 October while two Palestinian photo-journalists suffered the same fate in the early hours of 7 October. They were all covering the Israeli army’s response to the offensive by the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing in the Gaza strip. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the space of a few days in this conflict, the scale of which is unprecedented.
The three journalists killed today were Mohammed Soboh, a photo-journalist with the Palestinian news agency Khabar, Said al-Tawil, the editor of the independent Palestinian TV news channel Al Khamissa, and Hisham al-Nawajha, an Al Khamissa photo-journalist.
The three reporters had stationed themselves near the Hajji Tour in western Gaza to cover the Israeli attack on this building, which houses many media outlets. In the last video recorded by Al-Tawil, he said, “the Hajji Tower has just been threatened by a strike” by the Israelis and that “women, men and children have evacuated the area.” The three journalists then withdrew several hundred metres to near the Babel Tower, where – although they had bulletproof vests and helmets – they were killed by the force of the strikes that the Israelis also launched against this building.
According to the information collected by RSF, Mohammad al-Salihi, a freelance photojournalist reporting for the Palestinian news agency al-Sulta al-Rabia, was covering the start of the Israeli army’s response in Bureij, a district on the eastern border of the Gaza Strip, on 7 October when he sustained several gunshot injuries to the head. A video posted the same day on X (the former Twitter) shows the 29-year-old reporter unconscious with a bloodied neck. His death was confirmed a few hours later by the Palestinian health ministry. According to several sources, he was clearly identifiable as a journalist.
Ibrahim Lafi, a Palestinian photo-journalist with the Ain Media production company, was also killed by gunshots while covering the same clashes on the morning of 7 October despite wearing a press vest and holding a camera. He received tributes from both Palestinian colleagues and French journalists with the weekly Politis, whom he had assisted with a report last January. Aged 21 and in the last year of journalism school, he was one of the first reporters to cover the fighting in the field, colleagues said.
In a statement issued on 9 October, the Palestinian Journalists Union held the IDF responsible for the deaths of the two reporters, condemning “crimes committed by the Israeli occupation.” In their statements, the Israeli authorities have reiterated that they do not deliberately target civilians.
“Among the civilian victims of the war between Israel and Palestinian territories, we count journalists killed in the course of their work. The five journalists whose deaths we deplore in the past three days were all Palestinians. During the past ten years, 17 other Palestinian media professionals have suffered the same fate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, bringing the total killed to 22. This makes Palestine one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. In the current context, in which hundreds of civilians have already been killed in the massacres by Hamas and the Israeli bombardments, we denounce these crimes and we call on all parties to ensure that journalists are protected in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2222.
Two reporters missing, one wounded
RSF has learned that two other photo-journalists are currently missing in the Gaza Strip. They are Ain Media’s Haytham Abdel Wahed, and Nidal al-Whahidi, who works for the News Press news site and the Al Najah production company. Contact with them was lost on the morning of 7 October while they were jointly covering clashes between the Al-Qassam Brigades and Islamic Jihad, on the one hand, and the IDF at the Erez crossing point in Beit Hanoun, in the north of the Gaza Strip.
The next day, Al-Whahidi’s family said they had identified Al-Whahidi in a video showing persons who had been taken captive by the IDF. However, there has been no official recognition of this by the IDF.
Ibrahim Kannan, a Cairo and London-based reporter for the Al-Ghad TV news channel, was hospitalised on 7 October with injuries to a foot and an arm sustained while covering an Israeli strike on Rafah, a city in the south of the Gaza Strip.
Media premises destroyed
The premises of several media outlets in Gaza have been hit by gunfire. The headquarters of the local independent newspaper Al-Ayyam, located in the Palestine Tower in Gaza, was completely destroyed in an Israeli strike targeting the building on 7 October. The Gaza branch of Ma’an (a Palestinian news agency founded 2005 in Bethlehem), which is located in the Watan Tower, was also damaged by a strike. Ma’an director Imad Eid said the strike was launched without prior warning and destroyed equipment and material. Debris from another strike landed on the terrace of the Agence France-Presse bureau, where journalists had installed themselves. No injuries were reported. The offices of the Gaza FM local radio station and the Chehab news agency were also affected.
The Hamas assault on multiple fronts on 7 October left at least 800 Israelis dead, including dozens of soldiers, while around 100 civilians were taken hostage and at least 2,600 people were injured. According to the Reuters news agency, there has been fighting between armed Palestinian factions and Israeli forces in seven areas around the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian territory besieged by Israel and under Hamas control since 2007. According to Palestinian health ministry figures, at least 687 civilians have been killed and 3,700 have been injured in the Israeli bombardments in the Gaza Strip.
At the time of publishing, RSF is continuing – with the help of its local contacts – to investigate and verify the situation of journalists who are covering developments in the areas where the current clashes are taking place.