A journalism advocacy group says it is troubled by reports that six Palestinian journalists were among hundreds of civilian casualties and fatalities in the Gaza Strip.
The dead include photographer Ibrahim Mohammad Lafi, who was fatally shot while covering the ongoing crisis at a crossing into Israel, and Smart Media reporter Mohammad Jarghoun, according to a statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
The information about the deceased journalists was based on second-hand reporting provided by the Palestinian press freedom MADA and the Journalist Support Committee. The latter organization also said over the weekend that a freelance journalist, Mohammad El-Salhi, had been fatally shot on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
It was not immediately known if CPJ had verified those reports independently.
The CPJ has also been getting reports of journalists being assaulted or otherwise harmed while covering the ongoing conflict, which started last Saturday with a string of terrorist attacks by Hamas militants that left hundreds of Israelis dead and thousands more injured.
That same day, a television crew from Sky News Arabia said they were assaulted by police in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, with officers reportedly destroying their equipment. Sky News Arabia is operated as a joint venture between the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation and Philadelphia-based Comcast Corporation.
“We are extremely concerned that three Palestinian journalists have been killed, with two more declared missing, and another injured while reporting on the conflict between Israel and Gaza since it began on Saturday,” Sherif Mansour, the Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the CPJ, said in a statement. “We call on all sides to remember that journalists are civilians and should not be targeted. Accurate reporting is critical during times of crisis, and the media has a vital role to play in bringing news from Gaza and Israel to the world.”
The CPJ said it reached out to officials with the Israeli Defense Force and the Israeli Police, but did not receive a reply to their inquiries.
The reports add to a number of stories of apparent systemic targeting of journalists by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip.
During a broadcast of Al Jazeera’s “NewsHour” on Tuesday, correspondent Youmna ElSayed said the network’s journalists were evacuated from a neighborhood in Gaza City after receiving a warning that the area was subject to attack by Israeli forces.
ElSayed and her crew relocated to the Roots Hotel early Monday morning. A nearby building was shelled by Israeli forces, ElSayed said, injuring an untold number of journalists who were there.
“The journalists who died in the attack yesterday were in a neighboring building, the al-Shorooq, and that building was the one that was bombarded without prior notice,” ElSayed affirmed.