Forbidden Stories
Gaza Project

The Gaza Project: How Forbidden Stories investigated the killing of nearly 100 journalists in Gaza

Since October 7, more than 100 journalists have been killed. For four months, Forbidden Stories and its partners investigated the circumstances of their killings, as well as those who have been targeted, threatened and injured in the West Bank and Gaza. These investigations point to a chilling pattern and suggest some journalists may have been targeted even though they were identifiable as press.

(Visual : Mélody Da Fonseca)

By Cécile Andrzejewski, Léa Péruchon and Phineas Rueckert

June 25, 2024

Gaza Project partners 

Paper Trail Media Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) Le Monde The Guardian AFP +972 Magazine  Local Call Radio France Der Spiegel Der Standard – ZDF – Tamedia-Group


Forbidden Stories team

Director of the consortium: Laurent Richard

Editors: Annie Hylton, Edouard Perrin 

Journalists: Aïda Delpuech, Cécile Andrzejewski, Eloïse Layan, Léa Peruchon, Mariana Abreu, Paciane Rouchon, Phineas Rueckert, Sofía Álvarez Jurado⁩, Youssr Youssef

Journalist consultant: Walid Batrawi

Publication coordinator: Clément Le Merlus

Fact-checkers: Emma Wilkie, Mashal Butt, Nicole Dirks

Copy editors: Chris Knapp, Léna Coulon, Mashal Butt, Simon Guichard

Translators: Amy Thorpe, Carole Coen, Paciane Rouchon, Rouaa Al Houjayri, Sophie Stuber, Work With Words

Communication: Clarisse Jacq, Matthieu Gerrer, Emma Chailloux

Visuals: Mélody Da Fonseca

Videos: Anouk Aflalo Doré⁩, Vincent Bourre, Youssr Youssef

Web integration: Thibault François

“This is one of the most flagrant attacks on press freedom that I can remember. The impact on press freedom in Gaza, in the region and the rest of the world is something we cannot accept.”

Carlos Martínez de la Serna, the program director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) did not mince words about the deadly toll the war in Gaza has had on the press. 

While numbers vary, preliminary CPJ estimates show that 103 Palestinian journalists are among the 38,000 Palestinian casualties in Israel’s war on Gaza since October 7,  when militants from Hamas, designated a terrorist group by dozens of countries including the US and European Union, attacked Israel, killing more than 1,100 people, including 767 civilians, and taking at least 200 hostages. Two Israeli and three Lebanese journalists have also been killed, bringing the total number of journalist deaths to 108 in less than a year, according to CPJ. 

Faced with what is being reported as the record number of journalists killed, Forbidden Stories, whose mission is to pursue the work of journalists who are killed because of their work, set out to investigate the targeting of journalists in Gaza and the West Bank. We analyzed nearly 100 cases of journalists and media workers killed in Gaza, as well as other cases in which members of the press have been allegedly targeted, threatened, or injured since October 7. 

In a response to the Forbidden Stories consortium, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said: “The narrative that the IDF is intentionally targeting journalists is utterly unfounded and fundamentally false.”

Today, after four months of collaborative work, we are publishing the Gaza Project. This unprecedented collaboration, coordinated by Forbidden Stories, brings together 50 journalists from 13 organizations around the world.

As part of the investigation, Forbidden Stories and its partners remotely contacted over 120 witnesses in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including both journalists and witnesses to military activities. We consulted around 25 ballistics, weapons, and audio experts, including Earshot. Foreign journalists have only been allowed to enter Gaza on escorted trips with the Israeli military.  Unable to report freely from the inside the Gaza Strip, consortium members combined remote testimonies with satellite images from Planet Labs and Maxar Technologies. Evidence collected was digitally preserved on the Atlos platform, a collaborative workspace that enabled all the partners of the consortium to gather evidence in one place in order to classify them by incident and build an archive.

Forbidden Stories and its partners also spoke with journalists who have been threatened or attacked in Gaza and the West Bank.

“I remember one day saying goodbye to my children and wife when I left for work because we face daily incidents of being stopped, shot at, and attacked by settlers,” Omar Abu Awad, journalist and director of the Jericho office of Palestine TV, said.

“Whereas this press vest was supposed to identify and protect us, according to international laws, international conventions and the Geneva Conventions, it is now a threat to us,” Basel Khair Al-Din, a Palestinian journalist in Gaza, who believes he was targeted by a drone strike while wearing a press vest, said.“It’s this vest that almost got us killed, as has happened to so many of our fellow journalists and media workers.” 

To support information gathered from the ground, we pored through data from three different press freedom organizations: CPJ, Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS). We also looked into the full or partial destruction of buildings and offices that were clearly flagged as press infrastructure.

According to our count, at least 40 journalists and media workers were killed while at home. At least 40 journalists and media workers working for what Israel describes as Hamas-affiliated media have been killed. Forbidden Stories and our partners identified at least 18 journalists who were killed, injured, or allegedly targeted by drones and six buildings housing media offices that were completely or partially destroyed. At least 14 journalists were wearing press vests at the moment they were killed, injured, or allegedly targeted. 

“If there were 100 or 140 Israeli [or Ukrainian] journalists killed, I don’t think this would be the reaction of the world,” Shuruq As’ad, the spokesperson of the PJS said. “I don’t wish for any journalists to die, whether they were Israeli, Ukrainian, or Palestinian. journalists should work and be protected no matter who they are and which country they are in.” 

Experts consulted by Forbidden Stories noted that the nature of journalistic work in wartime meant that journalists “have to be as close to the fighting as possible because that’s what you’re reporting on,” Irene Khan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said. “That makes them particularly vulnerable to being attacked.” 

Our findings suggest that in some cases journalists were targeted, even while clearly identified as members of the press. 

Of the 80 journalists and media workers who received a protective vest from Press House, a shared office and community space for reporters in Gaza, 11 were killed. This symbolic structure was itself destroyed by an Israeli bomb.

“The Press House was my pen, my tongue, my eyes, my ears,” Ahmed Qanan, one of the founders of the institution, said. “What pains me is that I am now an amputee after it was destroyed by the Israeli war machine.”

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