Palestinians inspect the remains of a car in which Palestinian journalists Hamza Al Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya were killed on January 7. (Photo: Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

CPJ and partners call on President Biden to protect journalists in the Israel-Gaza war

The Torch is a weekly newsletter from the Committee to Protect Journalists that brings you the latest press freedom and journalist safety news from around the world. Subscribe here.

This week, CPJ repeats our call: The continuous killings of journalists and their family members by Israeli army fire must end: journalists are civilians, not targets.

On Sunday, an Israeli drone strike killed Al-Jazeera journalist Hamza Al Dahdouh—who was the son of Al-Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Al Dahdouh and the fifth member of his family to die in the Israel-Gaza war—and freelance journalist Mustafa Thuraya as they drove their car to an assignment in southern Gaza.

On Wednesday, CPJ joined five other press freedom and human rights organizations in calling on U.S. President Joe Biden to act immediately and decisively to promote the conditions for safe and unrestricted reporting on the hostilities in Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon.

The letter entreats Biden to take action: “We believe your administration can and must do more to effectively pursue accountability for journalists killed in the hostilities and to protect and support local and international journalists covering it.”

⚡️ Read the full letter here.

As of January 10, 79 journalists and media workers were confirmed dead, including 72 Palestinian, 4 Israeli, and 3 Lebanese. CPJ has repeatedly expressed concern at the apparent targeting of journalists reporting on the war, which has taken an unprecedented toll on the media community. Scores of journalists and their family members have been killed since the start of fighting on October 7. Find our latest reporting on the war here.

🗓️ Upcoming: Next Thursday, January 18, CPJ will release our annual census of journalists imprisoned as of December 1, 2023. Please email [email protected] to request advance copies of the report; CPJ experts are also available for interviews.

Global press freedom updates

  • Al-Jazeera journalist Samir Sassi arrested on undisclosed charges in Tunisia
  • Iranian journalist Hasan Abbasi rearrested and held incommunicado
  • Azerbaijani authorities charge Kanal 13 journalists Aziz Orujov and Shamo Eminov over alleged foreign donor money, order channel blocked
  • Ukrainian journalist Oleh Baturyn receives threats online after report on politician
  • CPJ calls for investigation of attack on 5 Kenyan journalists reporting a raid on Nairobi bar
  • CPJ calls for immediate release of ailing Vietnamese journalist Le Huu Minh Tuan
  • CPJ condemns the invasion by armed criminals of the Ecuadorian station TC TV, and their taking journalists and workers hostage


Missile attacks in Ukraine injured at least three journalists reporting on the war during the final weeks of 2023, including Svitlana Dolbysheva (left), a producer with ZDF, and Pavlo Dak, the editor-in-chief of Vgolos. (YouTube/NUJU; Dak)

In the final weeks of 2023, missile attacks in Ukraine injured at least three journalists reporting on the war, and at the time of this publication, CPJ is looking into an additional shelling of a hotel in Kharkiv on January 10, that injured at least two journalists.

➡️ On December 30, Svitlana Dolbysheva, a producer with the German public broadcaster ZDF, was injured when Russian forces shelled the Kharkiv Palace Hotel, a location favored by journalists because it has a bunker. At least 10 of the 15 rooms rented that day were occupied by journalists.

“This is another attack by Russia on the free press,” ZDF editor-in-chief Bettina Schausten said.

Dolbysheva told the NUJU, “I am very lucky; all my injuries are not life-threatening,” and listed out her injuries: “I had a…head injury, a cut, and a concussion. Also, the ceiling fell on my back, and I have fractured vertebrae, ribs, contusion, bruised lung, pneumothorax, and bruises all over my body.”

On the same day, a Russian missile hit Kharkiv Radio House, which houses the local branches of Ukraine’s public broadcaster Suspilne and Ukraine’s public radio.

➡️ On December 29, Russian forces shelled the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, injuring Pavlo Dak, the editor-in-chief of local news agency Vgolos.

“During the shelling, I was in the shelter and only tried to communicate with my colleagues so that they would replace me,” Dak told CPJ on January 4. He said that he had recovered other than occasional headaches.

➡️ The previous week, on December 22, Vlada Liberova, an independent war photographer, was injured as a result of a missile attack while reporting in the eastern region of Donetsk.

At least 15 journalists have been killed while working in Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, while many others have been injured, detained, or threatened. CPJ has documented previous attacks by Russia on hotels and restaurants in Ukraine known to be frequented by journalists.

Find our latest reporting on the war here.

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