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Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate: Israel Is Targeting Media in Gaza to Hide Its Atrocities from the World

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More than 100 journalists have been killed in Gaza since October 7, when Israel unleashed a ferocious attack on the territory from land, sea and air. On Sunday, an Israeli airstrike on a vehicle killed two more journalists, including Hamza Dahdouh, the eldest son of Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh, who had already lost his wife and other family to Israeli airstrikes. Palestinian journalist Anan Quzmar says media workers are being targeted in order to “shut down the coverage” of Israeli atrocities. Quzmar, a volunteer at the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, says the union has evidence that at least 96 of the 109 journalists whose deaths it has documented “were deliberately and specifically targeted by surgical Israeli strikes against them.” The PJS has filed an amicus brief in support of the Center for Constitutional Rights genocide lawsuit against Israel, citing the unprecedented number of Palestinian journalists killed in Gaza, saying they have been deliberately targeted for assassination by the Israeli military.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

As we’ve reported, two more journalists in Gaza were killed in an Israeli airstrike this weekend, among the victims, the eldest son of Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief, Wael al-Dahdouh. Just a few months ago, in October, he also lost 12 family members, including his wife, his 15-year-old son, his 7-year-old daughter and his infant grandson in an Israeli airstrike.

Like his father, Hamza al-Dahdouh worked for Al Jazeera. He was 27 years old. Hamza was reportedly driving in a car with other journalists on a road in Khan Younis when the vehicle was hit. The freelance journalist Mustafa Thuraya, who was a stringer for Agence France-Presse, AFP, was also killed, while a third, Hazem Rajab, was seriously injured. A video showed Wael al-Dahdouh crying next to his son’s body, holding his hand. Wael spoke on Sunday.

WAEL DAHDOUH: [translated] How can someone receive the death of their oldest son and everything in my life after I lost some of my family members, my wife, son Mahmoud and Sham and Adam? How can I receive this? … The world must see with their own eyes, and not with Israel’s eyes. It must listen and watch all that is happening to the Palestinian people. What has Hamza done to them? And what has my family done to them? What have civilians in the Gaza Strip done to them? They have not done anything. The world is blinded by what is going on in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: Just last month, Wael al-Dahdouh was injured in an Israeli drone attack while covering the aftermath of an Israeli strike on a U.N. school sheltering displaced people in Khan Younis. His cameraman, Al Jazeera photojournalist Samer Abudaqa, bled to death over the course of more than five hours, as Israeli forces reportedly prevented rescue workers and ambulances from reaching Samer.

The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate says Israel has killed at least 102 journalists in Gaza since October 7th.

For more, we go to the West Bank. We’re joined by Anan Quzmar, a Palestinian journalist, volunteer at the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, which has filed an amicus brief in support of the Center for Constitutional Rights genocide lawsuit against Israel, citing the unprecedented number of Palestinian journalists killed in Gaza, saying they’ve been deliberately targeted for assassination by the Israeli military.

Anan, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you talk about the journalists who were killed this weekend, Al Jazeera’s Hamza al-Dahdouh, amazingly, killed on the day that Blinken arrived in Qatar — Qatar owns Al Jazeera — and Mustafa Thuraya of Agence France-Presse? And then put them in the broader context of how many Palestinians — we’ve not seen this anytime in war, more than a hundred Palestinian journalists, estimates from 70 to over a hundred, dead since October 7th.

ANAN QUZMAR: Yeah. Thank you very much for having me to speak about this, for us, very, very important issue.

Hamza al-Dahdouh and Mustafa Abu Thuraya are just the latest victims of Israel’s calculated and deliberate assassination campaign against Palestinian journalists that has been going on for the last three months. Unfortunately, every time we release a number, we have to update it, within hours sometimes.

Our indications so far, of the 109 journalists, up to this moment, that have been killed by Israel’s genocidal military campaign, indicates that at least 96 of those were deliberately and specifically targeted by surgical Israeli strikes against them, at home or in the line of duty. Twenty-two of those were killed in the line of duty, using sniper fire, drones and surgical airstrikes, similar to the one that took place yesterday that took the life of the two journalists. They were targeted in their car. The munition that was used was big enough to damage the car and kill everybody inside, but it didn’t hurt anybody around, and they were targeted at a moment where there was nobody close to the vehicle at the time. So it’s clearly indicating that they were specifically targeted.

Other than this, there is at least 74 cases of journalists that were killed at home in strikes that specifically hit their flats. Some are in big apartment blocks, where they are on the fifth or sixth floor, and their flat is targeted, and no damage to any or limited damage to other nearby flats or homes.

And in the remaining 13 cases, we were just not able to determine who exactly was the person targeted in the strike. So, for example, we excluded any cases where more than 10 people were killed. We excluded cases where people who were not at the flat or at the location with the journalists, so there is an element of, you know, what Israel likes to call collateral damage.

We’ve also excluded from the 96 that we suggest were — at least 96 specifically targeted, cases like Akram Al-Shafe’i, who a couple of days ago passed away because he was not allowed or he had no access to adequate healthcare — excuse me. And at least at the moment, there is 25 of our journalists are in similar life-threatening situations because of lack of access to medical healthcare.

Also, the wider context of what’s happening now is an indication that these journalists are being targeted. As the previous guest alluded to, Israel’s interest is to shut down the coverage. And our journalists are a main portal and play a key role in uncovering the ongoing military campaign by Israel.

Other than this, many of our journalists received direct and indirect threats and incitement against them that they had personally reported, either publicly or privately, to us, due to fear that the publication of such reports or threats would actually escalate the situation and put them higher up in the bank of targets for Israel.

AMY GOODMAN: You’ve said —

ANAN QUZMAR: There is also —

AMY GOODMAN: You’ve said that 9% of all Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip have been killed since October 7th, and that you feel that press freedom organizations around the world have let Palestinian journalists down. How?

ANAN QUZMAR: After 109 journalists have been killed, we are still hearing the same statements that are calling for investigations. There are clear patterns. Yes, we haven’t been able to establish every single case, but — I am sorry, but three months into a genocidal campaign that has made Palestinian journalists a primary target for them, 9% of our journalists in Gaza have been killed. This is eight points higher than the average across the Gaza Strip. I talked about the threats and the specific targeting, and we are still hearing the same thing. I think if press freedom organizations are satisfied at the level of reaction and outrage that they’ve shown, let alone the action that would actually save the lives of Palestinian journalists, then we should question even the very purpose of their existence, if that’s the best they can do and say.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, can you explain the lawsuit of the Center for Constitutional Rights that you have filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Palestinian journalists, the significance of this, and what this would mean?

ANAN QUZMAR: This lawsuit aims to block any further diplomatic and military support to Israel. It’s just one step, one of many things that we are trying.

But, unfortunately, this assassination campaign has continued. And we’ve seen it as part of a wider escalation of use of violence against Palestinian journalists also in the West Bank — not only journalists, also medics. We have, since the last three months, 47 Palestinian journalists in the West Bank have been arrested. Thirty-three of them are still in prison, 18 of them under administrative detention, and the rest haven’t been faced with any charges at all. This level of escalation of use of force is seen also in regular incursions where the Israeli army targets medical staff and journalists. For example, there has been, where I am, in Tulkarem, regular incursions that have an emerging pattern of trying to maintain a continued presence and curfew over Palestinian cities, almost as a practice in order for the eventuality of needing to control such cities for extended period of times, like I explained. And the focus of these attacks is collective punishment, digging down — digging out, for example, in Tulkarem, the water pipes to cut the water from the locals, shooting at the electricity grid to cut the electricity.

And also, all of this comes with a huge price on our local institutions, that Israel is trying to destroy. And this also goes back to the attack on Palestinian journalists in Gaza. If you look at the profiles of those who are targeted, you see that they are not just targeted for being journalists. They’re being targeted for being an important part of the social fabric. Our famous journalists in Gaza are not what you would expect from an elite journalist sitting outside. These are humble people who have been the foundations of our society for a long time. And alongside our journalists, there’s been lecturers, for example, most media lecturers and journalism lecturers, who are also reported as journalists being killed, but there are actually media lecturers, as well. And we’ve had heads of universities targeted, poets, and you name it. So, one needs to look at the Israeli bank of targets seriously and the deliberate nature of this.

And I would like to end with — I think one of the most striking things is, when you speak to Palestinian journalists in Gaza, they never complain about their own suffering or what they’ve been going through as journalists. They literally want to continue to do their work, to the last drop of their blood, in order to bring an end to this, to stop the genocide.

AMY GOODMAN: Anan Quzmar, I want to thank you so much for being with us, a Palestinian journalist with the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, speaking to us from Tulkarem in the occupied West Bank.

Next up, hundreds of Boeing 737 MAX 9 jetliners have been either canceled or grounded after a door plug blew off, leaving a gaping hole in an Alaska Airlines plane Friday. We’ll speak with a former Boeing senior manager who raised safety concerns and with Nadia Milleron, whose daughter Samya died in a Boeing MAX plane as she flew over Ethiopia. Stay with us.

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