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Israel’s War on Journalists

Welcome to the Tuesday (this week, Wednesday) News Bulletin! Every week, we publish original reporting on Israel/Palestine by our staff and contributors, which goes directly to our newsletter subscribers. The Tuesday News Bulletin also serves as a forum for aggregating stories Jewish Currents staffers are tracking, with plenty of links to other publications so you can keep up with everything happening on our beats.

Israel’s War on Journalists
By casting reporters as Hamas accomplices, Israel seeks to discredit critical coverage—and to justify unprecedented violence against Palestinian journalists.
Jonathan Shamir

On October 10th, Palestinian journalists Muhammad Sobh and Hisham al-Nawajah arrived in a western neighborhood of Gaza City, where they had learned Israel was planning to bomb a high-rise building. They took cover a “sufficient distance away” and “took all necessary precautions,” Saleh al-Nazli, editor-in-chief of the reporters’ news agency, told The Washington Post. But the building from which Sobh and al-Nawajah sought to safely cover the attack was targeted, killing both of them as well as fellow journalist Said al-Taweel.

Sobh, al-Nawajah, and al-Taweel are only three of the 37 Palestinian journalists who have been killed in Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza since October 7th—some while on duty, others in their homes. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the figure represents more media casualties in a single month than in any comparable period of conflict since 1992. This unprecedented attack on journalists has drawn international attention, with over 1,300 journalists (including the author) signing an open letter condemning Israel’s killings of journalists, and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) charging Israel with war crimes in a petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC). “The scale, seriousness, and recurring nature of international crimes targeting journalists, particularly in Gaza, calls for a priority investigation by the ICC prosecutor,” Christophe Deloire, RSF’s secretary-general, said about the petition.

Before October 7th, Israeli forces had killed 20 media professionals since 2001; according to a May 2023 report by the CPJ, no one has ever been held accountable for these killings. In the aftermath of such attacks, Israel’s typical response has been to say that it does not deliberately target journalists. However, in recent weeks Israeli leaders and media outlets have attempted to associate Palestinian reporters with Hamas in order to justify violence against them. On November 2nd, The Jerusalem Post said that independent journalists in Gaza “effectively act as the mouthpiece for the terrorist organization.” And on November 8th, Israel’s official X account parroted a claim, first put forth without basis by the pro-Israel media monitoring group HonestReporting, that “AP, CNN, NY Times and Reuters had journalists embedded with Hamas terrorists” while they were carrying out the October 7th massacre. The post, which has since been deleted, included an image of journalists photographing Hamas militants as they transported a kidnapped woman on a motorbike. “Did these ‘journalists’ know about the impending Hamas attack and fail to warn relevant parties?” a later post asked.

The AP, CNN, Reuters, and The New York Times forcefully denied the allegation, but it was nevertheless immediately picked up by Israeli media outlets and adopted as a talking point by Israeli politicians, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office calling the journalists in question “accomplices in crimes against humanity” and opposition leader Yair Lapid asking international media outlets if they were going to fire the journalists. Other top-ranking politicians went further, with war cabinet member Benny Gantz and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir both calling the reporters “terrorists.” Such a designation appears likely to be a matter of life and death, as Danny Danon, a lawmaker from the ruling Likud party, made clear when he tweeted that Israel would “eliminate all participants of the October 7 massacre. The ‘photojournalists’ who took part in recording the [Hamas] assault will be added to that list.”

Hassan Eslaiah, a freelance Palestinian photojournalist for AP and CNN who is one of the main targets of the Israeli incitement campaign, told Jewish Currents that far from knowing of the attack ahead of time, he was woken up by rocket fire on October 7th and only arrived at the border fence “an hour or two” after the attack began. (Jewish Currents independently verified that the first Telegram image of Eslaiah at the scene was from 8:29 am local time, around two hours after the attack began.) Eslaiah also rejected the charge that he was affiliated with Hamas, which Israel’s X account has circulated based on a photo of Eslaiah with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. “I have no organizational or military affiliation with Hamas or any other faction,” Eslaiah said. “The photo from 2018 that has circulated of me with Yahya Sinwar was due to my work as a Palestinian journalist with access to leaders of various factions. I only published it to prove the authenticity of my journalistic reports on what was going on within Hamas.” Yet another charge against Eslaiah is that he drove to the scene with a Hamas militant, but according to Oren Persico, a journalist at the independent Israeli media watchdog The Seventh Eye, this cannot be taken as evidence for complicity. “Israeli journalists go with Israeli military units all the time and document what they do,” Persico said, noting that in the current moment “there is a blindness to the similarities in this embedding method,” with the main focus being to portray “Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip [as] not journalists, but terrorists.” (Eslaiah told Jewish Currents that despite CNN and AP publicly denying the allegations made by HonestReporting, the outlets have nevertheless cut ties with him without providing any explanation.)

According to CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator Sherif Mansour, Israel’s ongoing incitement against Palestinian reporters follows an established pattern under which the country first targets journalists, then attempts “to evade responsibility” for its actions by alleging that those attacked belonged to Hamas. This was the case in 2018, when, according to the later findings of a United Nations commission, an Israeli sniper “intentionally” shot dead Palestinian journalists Yaser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein during the Great March of Return, a largely nonviolent series of weekly demonstrations on the border fence demanding the Palestinian right to return to their ancestral lands. Shortly after the killings of Murtaja and Abu Hussein, then-Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman alleged that Murtaja was “a member of Hamas’s military wing,” a claim that was repeated by Netanyahu’s spokespeople. But Murtaja had just been strictly vetted by the United States in order to receive a media grant, and no Hamas links were found in the process. Israeli officials have not provided any evidence to the contrary in the years since Murtaja’s death. According to Mansour, the case revealed a broader Israeli strategy of “pushing false narratives, smear campaigns, and disinformation to justify its repeated attacks on journalists.”

Even before October 7th, reporting from Gaza faced exceptional challenges, with only a handful of international media outlets maintaining a bureau in the Gaza Strip. Now, with Israel preventing foreign journalists from entering the besieged enclave and warning that it will not guarantee the safety of journalists, most news outlets are wholly dependent on Palestinian reporters in the Strip. “They are our eyes and ears. Without them, we are left vulnerable to disinformation that is only designed to fuel the conflict,” Mansour explained. But it is precisely this reporting Israel has been hampering, deliberately targeting dozens of media offices in airstrikes. With killings of Palestinian journalists documented from the north to the south of the Strip, “there is nowhere they can do their job safely,” Mansour said. “And now irresponsible disinformation puts these journalists in extra imminent danger,” he said.

In addition to acting as justification for violence against journalists, Persico said Israel’s recent campaign is also part of its efforts to suppress unfavorable news coverage. In the past month, the Israeli government has arrested 13 Palestinian journalists in the West Bank. Within Israel, a far-right mob converged on the home of Israeli journalist Israel Frey after he held a vigil for both Israeli and Palestinian victims of violence, pushing Frey and his family into hiding. And on October 20th, the Israeli government approved emergency regulations that ban the broadcast of foreign media channels which “threaten national security.” (Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi originally singled out Al Jazeera as a target for the law, describing the channel as “helping terror organizations with their propaganda,” but the government has so far only banned the Iran-aligned channel Al-Mayadeen.)

According to Persico, these moves seek to keep the Israeli public in the dark about Israel’s actions in Gaza. “The mainstream Israeli media doesn’t want [the public] to know how many civilians are dying . . . Images of the Palestinian dead or wounded are considered Hamas propaganda,” Persico toldJewish Currents. The Israeli government has taken every opportunity to discredit outside sources providing information on these questions, with officials accusing the BBC of spreading a “modern blood libel” after the outlet blamed Israel for bombing Al-Ahli hospital, and army spokespeople calling into question international outlets’ reliance on the Gazan Health Ministry’s death tolls, even though they have historically proven to be accurate. The recent incitement against reporters has fed these efforts. A day after the HonestReporting allegations came out, prominent Israeli journalist Amit Segal tweeted about Eslaiah: “He and his ilk are the people who are fact-checking the death tolls and the imaginary Israeli bombing of hospitals?” As a result of these broad attempts to target and discredit Palestinian journalists in Gaza, Persico said, “the Israeli public is in a bubble. It doesn’t understand why the world is angry, and there’s an ever-widening gap between the Israeli public and the international community.”


As part of the Tuesday News Bulletin, Jewish Currents is publishing a photograph taken by members of Activestills every week, archiving ongoing dispossession and resistance from the river to the sea. You can find more information on this collaboration here.

Over 500 Palestinian workers from Gaza gather inside in the Ramallah Municipality Recreation Complex in the occupied West Bank. The workers have lived in the complex since Hamas attacked Israel and Israel began bombing Gaza on October 7th. The Gazans were in Israel for work, but on October 11th, Israeli authorities revoked their work permits, stripping them of their legal status and forcing them to seek refuge in the West Bank.


Here’s what else we’re tracking:
  • On Tuesday, a Human Rights Watch report found that Israel was engaging in “repeated” and “apparently unlawful attacks on medical facilities, personnel, and transport” in Gaza that should be investigated as war crimes. The report was published amid an ongoing Israeli siege at al-Shifa hospital, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip. As of Sunday, the World Health Organization said al-Shifa was “not functioning as a hospital anymore” because it was “without electricity, without water and with very poor internet.” The loss of power resulting from the siege has killed at least 40 patients over the last four days, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The dead include at least three—and perhaps as many as six—premature babies, whose incubators shut down after the hospital ran out of fuel. Earlier today, Israeli troops raided the hospital, where they detained and interrogated people. One al-Shifa employee told Al Jazeera that Israeli soldiers “detained and brutally assaulted some of the men who were taking refuge at the hospital.” Israel said it found weapons in the raid, but “declined to provide further details and said that proof would not be provided until after the raid had ended,” The New York Times reported. Before the raid, Israeli soldiers were engaged in firefights with Hamas militants outside the compound. Israel claims Hamas uses the hospital as a base, an accusation Hamas rejects.
  • Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on Tuesday that the “voluntary migration” of Palestinians from Gaza is the “right humanitarian solution” for both the residents and the Middle East. Smotrich’s comments were an endorsement of an article that lawmakers Ram Ben-Barak and Danny Danon published in The Wall Street Journal calling for Europe to take in Palestinian refugees from Gaza. Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian politician, said that the article was in fact a call for the “ethnic cleansing” of Gaza and that Smotrich’s comments “revealed the real policy and intentions of the Israeli government.” The New York Times previously reported that Israeli officials had lobbied foreign governments to support the transfer of hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents to Egypt. On October 13th, Israel’s Ministry of Intelligence even formulated a proposal recommending “the forcible and permanent transfer of the Gaza Strip’s 2.2 million Palestinian residents to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula,” according to a +972 Magazine investigation.
  • Vivian Silver, the Israeli Canadian leftist who was thought to be abducted by Hamas militants during the October 7th attack, was in fact killed that day in Kibbutz Be’eri, her family said on Monday. Silver was a former board member of Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and had advocated for Israel to lift its devastating blockade of Gaza. Separately, on Tuesday, the Israeli army confirmed the death of Noa Marciano, an Israeli soldier taken captive by Hamas fighters on October 7th. On Monday, Hamas published a video of Marciano’s body, saying the soldier had been killed in an Israeli airstrike.
  • On Sunday, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a missile attack in Dovev, Israel, a town near the country’s border with Lebanon. The attack injured two electrical company workers in Dovev. The same day, the Lebanese wing of Hamas took responsibility for a mortar attack that injured seven Israeli soldiers. Israel bombed southern Lebanon following the attacks. This was only the latest instance of conflict near the Israel-Lebanon border since Hamas attacked Israel, and Israel began a war on Gaza, on October 7th. For the last month, Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, has fired rockets into northern Israel, and its militants have been involved in gun battles with Israeli soldiers at the border. Attacks from Lebanon have killed 10 people in Israel, seven of them soldiers. Israeli strikes on Lebanon have killed 70 Hezbollah fighters and 10 civilians. On Tuesday, a Human Rights Watch report said that a November 5th Israeli airstrike that killed three girls and their grandmother should be investigated as an “apparent war crime.” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Saturday said that if Hezbollah continues to “make mistakes,” those who will “pay the price are first of all the citizens of Lebanon. What we are doing in Gaza we know how to do in Beirut.”
  • Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians during a raid on the Palestinian city of Tulkarem on Tuesday. Israel’s army said the raid was meant to arrest Palestinian militants and that soldiers came under fire during the incursion. Last Thursday, Israeli forces killed 18 Palestinians during a raid in the West Bank city of Jenin that Israel also said was meant to target militants. In addition to soldiers invading the cities, the Israeli air force bombed targets during both the raids. Since October 7th, Israeli soldiers have killed at least 173 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, while Israeli settlers have killed an additional eight people.
  • Rep. Ilhan Omar will introduce legislation this week to block the United States’s $320 million sale of precision guidance kits for bombs to Israel, according to a HuffPost report. The effort marks the first Congressional attempt to halt the sale of bombs to Israel since the beginning of Israel’s assault on Gaza. The bill is unlikely to advance to a vote in the House of Representatives; however, a senator could introduce a similar bill which would be guaranteed to come up for a vote.
  • Over 400 Biden administration staffers sent a letter to President Biden on Tuesday protesting the White House’s support for Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. The letter urges the president to press for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and to push Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into the besieged enclave. The letter is the latest instance of internal dissent against the Biden administration’s policy of backing Israel unconditionally during its bombing and invasion of Gaza. A separate internal State Department memo, which was sent to the department’s policy office on November 3rd, charged that Israel is committing war crimes in Gaza and said Biden was spreading misinformation, a likely reference to Biden’s casting doubt on the numbers of dead reported by the Palestinian Health Ministry. The memo was signed by 100 State Department and US Agency for International Development employees.
  • On November 11th, hundreds of thousands took to the streets of London in the United Kingdom’s largest ever pro-Palestine march. While the police estimated that 300,000 people took part, the organizers claimed the turnout was as high as 800,000. Ahead of the march, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the rally—which was held on Remembrance Day, a national day to commemorate the British armed forces—as “provocative,” while his Home Secretary Suella Braverman called for tougher policing against what she called a “hate march.” Earlier in the week, Braverman also penned an unauthorized op-ed for The Times that accused the police of “playing favorites” in their treatment of pro-Palestine protesters. Police told The Guardian that Braverman’s comments played a role in inciting the “unprecedented” far-right attacks on officers that took place on November 11th, ending with the arrest of 126 people. However, Braverman did not condemn the nationalist marchers, and instead took aim at “hate, violence, and antisemitism” at the Palestine rally. On November 13th, she was subsequently fired from her position as Home Secretary by Sunak.