Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. Subscribe here to the daily summary covering the evolution of the media landscape.
Some journalists are making the ultimate sacrifice by covering the war between Israel and Hamas.
At least seven journalists have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Hamas launched its brazen attack on Saturday, according to press and media freedom groups. This figure could rise further in the coming days as Israel carries out retaliatory strikes against Hamas, while the terrorist group continues its offensive against the Jewish state.
This bloodshed highlights the very real risk journalists take when covering conflict zones, gathering information in extraordinarily tense circumstances to keep the world informed and hold authorities accountable for what is happening on the ground.
“In many ways, the most vulnerable journalists are the ones most needed,” Sherif Mansour, coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists that oversees the Middle East, noted Tuesday.
The vast majority of journalists covering this raging war are based in Israel, which has suffered heavy attacks from Hamas and remains far from a refuge amid fierce fighting. Harrowing video filmed along the border in recent days shows television correspondents running for cover as missiles are fired at their locations and gunfire erupts nearby.
Meanwhile, journalists based in Gaza, which has been hit by Israeli airstrikes, are at even greater risk. These journalists are particularly vulnerable to airstrikes and gunfire, while having to operate in territory controlled by Hamas, known for its anti-press measures.
For these reasons, and other logistical difficulties, there are very few Western journalists in Gaza. Some media outlets – such as CNN, the BBC, the Associated Press and Reuters – have staff on the ground in Gaza, but they are far fewer in number than their Israel-based counterparts. This leaves local Palestinian journalists with the important task of showing the world what is happening across the border.
“In the absence of some international journalists and media, local journalists…are almost the only source to find out what is happening in Gaza after the Israeli strikes,” Mansour said.
“They made these sacrifices to show what is happening on the ground,” Mansour added, speaking of at least seven journalists killed this week while covering the Gaza Strip.
Last year, 67 journalists and other media workers were killed around the world, CPJ found, marking the highest number of journalist killings since 2018, as journalists braved the war in Ukraine and were targeted because of their work in Latin America.
In addition to the very real physical dangers that journalists face when covering active war zones, Mansour pointed out that journalists who cover violent conflicts often struggle with “mental and psychological effects that go beyond the mission itself. He highlighted the immense human suffering and the “consequences of these horrible events” that journalists witness and which cannot be easily shaken and which remain forever etched in their memories.
“They go back to their normal lives, they go back to another country and the trauma of those events still follows them,” Mansour said.
Unfortunately, the death toll and the volume of human suffering in the region will only increase, and the already dangerous situation for residents and journalists is expected to become even more perilous in the days and weeks to come. The Israeli army has gathered along the border, signaling a possible ground invasion of Palestinian territory. And there is no sign that the rocket fire will stop any time soon.
“I don’t think so,” Mansour said, “we have reached the worst chapter yet.”