Mourners carry the body of Palestinian journalist Ahmed Abu Hussein, who died of wounds he sustained after being shot by the Israeli military while covering a protest along the Gaza-Israel border fence, during his funeral in the northern Gaza Strip on April 26, 2018. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

A deadly reporting field for Palestinian journalists 

Palestinians make up 90% of the journalists and media workers killed by the IDF in CPJ’s database. (The other 10% were foreign correspondents; no Israelis were killed.) Those figures are partly a reflection of broader trends in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; over the last 15 years, 21 times more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed, according to United Nations figures. 

The figures also reflect dangers in the places where Palestinians are able to report. Palestinians face extreme restrictions on movement. Palestinians cannot travel between Gaza — where Israel controls the airspace, territorial waters, and most land crossings —  and the occupied West Bank without Israeli permission. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank also need Israeli permission to enter Israel and east Jerusalem. Palestinians in east Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in a move not recognized internationally, have more freedom of movement; like other non-Gaza residents they still need Israeli permits to enter Gaza. The Israeli Government Press Office, which coordinates between the government and journalists, told CPJ it supports the applications of Palestinian journalists to report inside Israel. 

The result of these restrictions is that Palestinians journalists are largely confined to reporting where they reside — often the sites of major violence. They are often early on the scene to cover Israeli military operations in their towns and cities, serving as the first eyes and ears on events that quickly become world news. 

An Israeli soldier fires a tear gas canister during clashes with Palestinians in Hebron, in the West Bank, on October 25, 2022. (Reuters/Mussa Qawasma)

Israeli soldiers’ views on Palestinian journalists also undermine their safety, journalists on the ground told CPJ. “They don’t consider Palestinian journalists as journalists, they consider us the same as Palestinian demonstrators and they target us like they do demonstrators,” said Hafez Abu Sabra, a Palestinian reporter with Jordan’s Roya TV.

This is in sharp contrast to the way the military treats Israeli reporters, who may coordinate with the army to go to Palestinian cities in the West Bank, areas Israeli citizens normally cannot access. “The army knows the handful of journalists who cover military operations and when to have them tag along,” said Emanuel Fabian, a military correspondent with The Times of Israel. Israeli reporters, like all Israeli citizens, are barred from entering Gaza.

Haaretz’s Amira Hass, who regularly files from Palestinian areas, says that most Israeli newspapers don’t provide a full depiction of Palestinian life under Israeli restrictions, instead focusing on the military angle. “The mainstream media in Israel does not cover the occupation, really,” she said. In general, Palestinian newspapers also don’t provide in-depth coverage of Israeli life, but do cover Israeli politics by translating the Hebrew press. 

Foreign correspondents are the journalists tasked with spanning the divide. With Israeli Government Press Office permission, they are able to report in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza — and they face dangers in doing so. “We can basically go anywhere we want, and I think the ease of access sometimes obscures the fact that this is a very dangerous place to work,” The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Bethan McKernan told CPJ. “It is unpredictable, and violence can break out unexpectedly at any moment.”