Five Palestinian journalists are among the hundreds of civilians who were killed in the Gaza Strip over the last few days as the Israeli Defense Forces continues to respond to a Hamas-led terrorist attack.
The information was disclosed Wednesday evening by the media rights organization Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), which urged local governments and the international community to ensure journalists are protected in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2222.
Among the five journalists killed in Gaza were several reporters who were near the Hajj Tower targeted and leveled by Israeli forces earlier in the week.
RSF said the journalists — Mohammed Soboh, Said al-Tawil and Hisham al-Nawajha — had been stationed at Hajj Tower to cover the Gaza side of the conflict, with the building acting as a base of operations for journalists from domestic and international news outlets.
All three were wearing protective gear, and evacuated from the Hajj Tower after receiving a warning that the building was being targeted by Israeli forces. They relocated to the nearby Babel Tower, where they were “killed by the force of the strikes that the Israelis also launched against this building.”
The three fatalities add to at least two others known to RSF since the start of military conflict between Israel and Hamas started over the weekend. The other two journalists killed were freelance reporter Mohammad al-Salihi and photojournalist Ibrahim Lafi. Both journalists were wearing defensive gear that clearly identified themselves as members of the press, RSF said.
“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,” Anne Bocandé, the editorial director at RSF, said in a statement. “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.”
In addition to the five journalists who are known to have died, RSF said two others are missing and one was confirmed as injured while covering the conflict in Gaza.
The two missing journalists are Haytham Abeld Wahed and Nidal al-Whahidi, whose last contact with their respective news organizations was on October 7, the same day that Hamas militants crossed from Gaza into Israel as part of a widespread and coordinated terrorist attack there.
In the case of al-Whahidi, the journalist’s family claim they were able to identify him in a social media video that purported to show Palestinian men captured by the Israeli Defense Forces. That video has not been independently confirmed.
The casualty count reported by RSF on Wednesday adds to a growing count of journalists who have been targeted and injured or killed since fighting began on Saturday. On Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said two other Palestinian journalists — photographer Ibrahim Mohammad Lafi and reporter Mohamad Jarghoun — were also killed, with that information based on second-hand reporting.
The Hamas-led terror attack triggered a widespread response from Israel’s military, which have led coordinated retaliatory strikes against targets in Gaza that have leveled buildings and left hundreds of Palestinians dead.
Among the buildings struck by Israeli bombs were the headquarters of the Gaza newspaper Al-Ayaam, which was located in Palestine Tower, and the bureau of Ma’an inside the Watan Tower.
Strikes also affected an office used by French newswire Agence France-Presse, radio station Gaza FM and the news agency Chehab, RSF said.
“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,” a spokesperson for RSF said.