Mourners attend the November 3 funeral of Palestinian journalist Mohammed Abu Hatab, who was killed in an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza Strip on November 2, 2023. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

Press release: A record toll on journalists in Israel-Gaza war

New York, December 21, 2023—More journalists have been killed in the first 10 weeks of the Israel-Gaza war than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year, according to a new analysis released today by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

As of December 20, 2023, at least 68 journalists and media workers had been killed since the October 7 start of the conflict: 61 were Palestinian, four Israeli, and three Lebanese.

More than half the deaths—37—occurred during the first month of the war, making it the deadliest single month ever documented by CPJ since it began recording journalist fatalities in 1992.

“The concentration of journalists killed in the Israel-Gaza war is unparalleled in CPJ’s history and underscores how grave the situation is for press on the ground,” said CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg. “Local Palestinian journalists continue to report from Gaza while living in fear for their lives. The sheer number of journalist casualties, only months into the war, brings into sharp focus the dire need for warring parties to commit to protecting all civilians, including journalists.”

CPJ is particularly concerned about an apparent pattern of targeting of journalists and their families by the Israeli military. In at least one case, a journalist was killed while clearly wearing press insignia in a location where no fighting was taking place. In at least two other cases, journalists reported receiving threats from Israeli officials and IDF officers before their family members were killed.  

CPJ’s analysis underscores how the toll on journalists covering this war is unmatched in intensity compared to the killings of journalists and media workers in previous conflicts. 

“The Israel-Gaza war is the most dangerous situation for journalists we have ever seen and these figures show that clearly,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “The Israeli army has killed more journalists in 10 weeks than any other army or entity has in any single year. And with every journalist killed, the war becomes harder to document and to understand.”

In Iraq, the only country to approach this toll in a single year, 56 journalists were killed in 2006. CPJ confirmed that 48 were killed in connection with their work but was unable to determine the motives in eight other deaths. With the exception of the Philippines, where 33 of the 35 journalists and media workers killed in 2009 were murdered in a single massacre, the countries with the highest number of journalists killed for their work in any given year—Syria (32 killed because of their work in 2012; five still under investigation); Afghanistan (15 of 16 killed in 2018 died because of their work); Ukraine (13 of 15 deaths in 2022 confirmed to have been work-related); and Somalia (12 of 14 work-related in 2012)—were in a state of war or insurrection during the years in review.

CPJ on Thursday published a series of calls to Israel and the international community. The main recommendations are:

  1. Protect the lives of journalists

– Facilitate immediate access to humanitarian aid and basic supplies to Gaza and the safe delivery of personal protective equipment—such as helmets and flak jackets—to journalists in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. 

– Ensure media credentials and press insignia are respected, and that all parties follow international humanitarian law and do not target or harm journalists. 

  1. Provide access and the ability to report: 

– Grant international news organizations access to Gaza and halt the practice of communications blackouts. 

– Repeal new regulations that allow for the shutdown of news organizations and end the “administrative detention” of journalists, which allows for imprisonment without charge.

  1. Investigate attacks and end impunity: 

– End the longstanding pattern of impunity in cases of journalists killed by the IDF. The international community should act to ensure swift, transparent, and independent investigations are conducted into all journalist deaths since the October 7 start of the Israel-Gaza war.

CPJ’s May 2023 report, “Deadly Pattern,” showed a pattern of lethal force by the Israel Defense Forces that left 20 journalists dead over the last 22 years. It found that the majority of the 20 journalists killed—at least 13—were clearly identified as members of the media or were inside vehicles with press insignia at the time of their deaths. No one has ever been held accountable.


About the Committee to Protect Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. We defend the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal.