Forbidden Stories
Gaza Project

Why we did the Gaza Project

(Visual : Mélody Da Fonseca)

By Laurent Richard,

Journalist and founder of Forbidden Stories

June 25, 2024

We had to unite. We had to work together to inform the public. Since the outbreak of Israel’s war in Gaza following Hamas’ terrorist attack on October 7, more than 100 journalists and media workers have been killed, including the rising casualties of over 37,000 civilians.

The surviving Gazan journalists have long known that their “press” vests do not protect them. Worse, the protective gear might further expose them. Local reporters know, too, that they are on their own, with the Israeli authorities banning foreign journalists from entering the Gaza Strip. “Those who are still there have been injured, detained, lost their family members, lost equipment and fear working publicly,” says Hoda Osman, executive editor at Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) and member of the Gaza Project.

Journalists are the witnesses of history. Their presence can prevent war crimes from multiplying with impunity, and let the public in on what is happening on the ground, beyond the propaganda from the various camps involved.

The Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified by 196 countries—including Israel—stipulates that attacking journalists, or their equipment, if they are not taking part in combat is a violation of international law.

Forbidden Stories, whose mission is to continue the work of murdered, imprisoned or threatened journalists, decided in February to coordinate an unprecedented project. 

For the Gaza Project, 50 journalists from 13 different news organizations worked together to investigate the killing of journalists in Gaza and the alleged threats, targeting arrests made in the West Bank.

Prohibited from entering the Gaza Strip, we analyzed thousands of hours of images and sound to determine precise GPS positions, ballistic trajectories and the chronology of events. This methodology was essential, according to Manisha Ganguly, investigations correspondent and open-source lead for the Guardian: “This, combined with the information from our sources on the ground, is perhaps the best way to report on this war because of the restrictions placed upon foreign journalists, getting access to Gaza.”

The massive destruction and the displacement of journalists and their families, along with the communication blockage, were the most challenging factors we had to overcome. When we started this project back in February, I had doubts about how far we would be able to go with these investigations, but we were able to achieve a very devastating account of what is happening in the Gaza Strip against journalists,” says Walid Batrawi, a Palestinian journalist and one of the pillars of this project. Together we are more accurate and impactful,” continues Maria Retter from Paper Trail Media, our German partner. From targeted attacks to the destruction of infrastructure known to host media outlets, the Gaza Project reveals a damning array of evidence against the Israeli government and calls into question their army’s denials about targeting the press since the war began. 

The Gaza Project is also unique in bringing together diverse journalists from various nationalities in the name of public interest. This project was especially important for us, as an act of solidarity with those journalists who paid with their lives, to show the world what is going on in Gaza,” says Yuval Abraham, an Israeli journalist based in Jerusalem and working for +972 Magazine and Local Call, a publication run by Palestinian and Israeli journalists.

For this project, we also continued the work of some of the reporters killed, harmed or arrested by the Israeli army. It’s our way of breathing new life into stories that cost them their lives and their freedom. Killing the journalist won’t kill the story.

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