RSF files complaint with ICC for war crimes against journalists in Palestine and Israel
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has filed a complaint for war crimes committed against Palestinian journalists in Gaza – the third such complaint since 2018 – and against an Israeli journalist, killed and wounded in the course of their work. These reporters were the victims of attacks amounting – at the very least – to war crimes justifying an investigation by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Filed with the office of the ICC prosecutor on 31 October, RSF’s complaint details the cases of nine journalists killed in the course of their work since 7 October and two others who were wounded, also in the course of their work. It also cites the deliberate, total or partial, destruction of the premises of more than 50 media outlets in Gaza.
According to RSF’s tally, 34 journalists have been killed since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, of whom at least 12 were killed in the course of their work – 10 in Gaza, one in Israel and one in Lebanon.
“The scale, seriousness and recurring nature of international crimes targeting journalists, particularly in Gaza, calls for a priority investigation by the ICC prosecutor. We have been calling for this since 2018. The current tragic events demonstrate the extreme urgency of the need for ICC action.
War crimes complaint
This RSF complaint to the ICC concerns eight Palestinian journalists who were killed in bombardments of civilian areas in Gaza by Israel, and an Israeli journalist who was killed on 7 October while covering an attack on his kibbutz by Hamas.
The attacks suffered by Palestinian journalists in Gaza correspond to the international humanitarian law definition of an indiscriminate attack and therefore constitute war crimes under Article 8.2.b. of the Rome Statute. Even if these journalists were the victims of attacks aimed at legitimate military targets, as the Israeli authorities claim, the attacks nevertheless caused manifestly excessive and disproportionate harm to civilians, and still amount to a war crime under this article.
The Israeli journalist’s death constituted the wilful killing of a person protected by the Geneva Conventions, which is a war crime under article 8.2.a. of the ICC’s Rome Statute.
It will be up to the ICC prosecutor’s office to determine the precise nature of these crimes and, at the end of their investigation, to select any other applicable classification.
In its complaint, RSF also calls on the prosecutor to investigate all of the cases of journalists killed since 7 October – 34, according to our latest information. RSF’s complaint details the cases of journalists killed in the course of their work. Other cases are still being investigated before being referred to the ICC. Several reporters have been killed or wounded in Lebanon, which – unlike Palestine – is not a State Party to the ICC. RSF is looking into the possibility of referring these cases to other competent jurisdictions.
RSF’s third complaint about war crimes against Palestinian journalists in Gaza
This is RSF’s third complaint to the ICC prosecutor about war crimes against Palestinian journalists in Gaza since 2018. The first was filed in May 2018 about journalists killed or injured during the “Great March of Return” protests in Gaza. The second was filed in May 2021 following Israeli air strikes on more than 20 media outlets in the Gaza Strip. RSF also supported the complaint filed by Al Jazeera about the fatal shooting of Palestinian journalist Shirin Abu Akleh in the West Bank on 11 May 2022.