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Journalist death toll in Israel-Hamas conflicts reaches 63, media watchdog confirms

LONDON: The toll on journalists amid the Israel-Hamas conflict has reached a grim milestone, with at least 63 media professionals confirmed dead, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists on Monday.

The breakdown of casualties includes 56 Palestinian journalists, 4 Israeli journalists, and 3 Lebanese media workers, marking the deadliest month for journalists since the CPJ began documenting fatalities in 1992.

In addition, 11 journalists were also reported injured, 3 missing, and 19 arrested.

“As of December 4, CPJ’s investigations showed at least 63 journalists and media workers were among more than 16,000 killed since the war began on October 7,” CPJ wrote in a blog post.

It added: “This deadly toll is coupled with harassment, detentions, and other reporting obstructions in Gaza, the West Bank, Israel, and beyond.”

The organization has been investigating and independently verified all reports of journalists and media workers killed since Oct. 7.

CPJ said that it was also investigating unconfirmed reports of other journalists killed, missing, detained, hurt or threatened, and of damage to media offices and journalists’ homes.

Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said “that journalists are civilians doing important work during times of crisis and must not be targeted by warring parties.”

“Journalists across the region are making great sacrifices to cover this heart-breaking conflict. Those in Gaza, in particular, have paid, and continue to pay, an unprecedented toll and face exponential threats.”

Amid the escalating conflict, Israeli forces reported telling news agencies of their inability to ensure the safety of journalists working in Gaza, where the conflict resumed recently after a one-week truce.

Israel’s record on the protection of media workers has faced criticism, with calls for accountability directed at their leaders for not doing enough to prevent the targeting of journalists.

On Monday, Israeli tanks were reported to have opened fire on journalists and photographers in Gaza.

Palestinian journalist Motaz Azaiza shared the video of the incident in which he and a colleague are seen running from Israeli army projectiles fired from tanks and targeting civilians on the street, while wearing press vests.

On Sunday, Lama Al-Arian, a Beirut-based multi-Emmy-award-winning journalist, penned a poignant essay for The New York Times, recounting the loss of her friend Issam Abdallah near the Lebanese-Israeli border on Oct. 13.

She highlighted the conclusion drawn by Reporters Without Borders, stating that Issam Abdallah and the accompanying journalists were “explicitly targeted” in the attack originating from Israel.

Al-Arian underscored Israel’s persistent targeting of journalists, calling it a “deadly, decades-long pattern” for which there has been a lack of accountability for more than 22 years.

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