RSF files third complaint with ICC about Israeli war crimes against journalists in Gaza

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has filed its third complaint with the International Criminal Court about Israeli war crimes against journalists, this one asking the prosecutor to investigate crimes against at least nine Palestinian reporters between 15 December and 20 May, as well as, more broadly, the more than 100 journalists that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have killed since 7 October in Gaza.

Submitted on 24 May, three days before the ninth anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 2222 on protecting journalists in wartime, RSF’s latest complaint comes just days after the ICC’s prosecutor issued his first requests for arrest warrants in connection with the Gaza conflict. 

The complaint reiterates RSF’s request to the prosecutor to comply with article 15 of the ICC’s Rome Statute by prioritising the investigation into the IDF’s crimes against journalists in Gaza since 7 October.

RSF has filed this third complaint with the Hague-based ICC because the number of journalists killed in Gaza by the IDF is continuing to grow after passing the 100 mark, in an eradication of the Palestinian media.

The complaint, which follows those filed on 31 October and 22 December, details eight new cases of Palestinian journalists killed between 20 December and 20 May, as well as the case of a journalist who was injured. All concerned journalists were killed (or injured) in the course of their work. RSF has reasonable grounds for thinking that some of these journalists were deliberately killed and that the others were the victims of deliberate IDF attacks against civilians.

"Impunity endangers journalists not only in Palestine but also throughout the world. Those who kill journalists are attacking the public's right to information, which is even more essential in times of conflict. They must be held accountable, and RSF will continue to work to this end, in solidarity with Gaza’s reporters.

Antoine Bernard
RSF’s advocacy and assistance director

In a message to RSF on 5 January, the ICC prosecutor’s office said for the first time that crimes against journalists are included in its investigation into Palestine. As well as submitting the nine cases, RSF has reiterated its request for the prosecutor to investigate the deaths of all of the journalists killed by the IDF in Gaza since 7 October.

The journalists named in this complaint include Mustapha Thuraya and Hamza al-Dahdouh, two freelance reporters who were working for Al Jazeera in Rafah when they were killed by a targeted Israeli drone attack on their vehicle on 7 January. Hazem Rajab, a third journalist who was injured in this attack, is included in the complaint. The IDF issued a statement on 10 January claiming that an Israeli aircraft “directed by troops targeted the operators of a drone, posing a threat to our soldiers,” referring to a drone used by Thuraya.

Video footage recorded by Thuraya’s drone that was published by the Washington Post nonetheless indicated only journalistic use and nothing of a military nature. 

The complaint also cites the cases of Hadaf News website reporter Ahmed Badir, who was killed by an airstrike at the entrance to Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah on 10 January; Kan'an News Agency correspondent Yasser Mamdouh, who was killed near Al-Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis on 11 February; Ayat Khadoura, an independent video blogger killed by an Israeli strike on his home on 20 November shortly after posting a video; Yazan Emad Al-Zwaidi, a cameraman with the Egyptian satellite TV news channel Al Ghad, who was killed on 14 January when an Israeli strike hit the group of civilians he was with in Beit Hanoun; Ahmed Fatima, a journalist with the Al Qahera News TV channel, who was killed during a bombardment in Khan Yunis on 13 November; and Rami Bdeir, a reporter for the Palestinian New Press media outlet, who was killed during an Israeli bombardment in Khan Yunis on 15 December.

Resolution 2222, the UN Security Council resolution on protecting journalists in wartime that was adopted exactly nine years ago, on 27 May 2015, stresses the importance of prosecuting and punishing war crimes against journalists.

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