This article was originally published by CPJ and was reproduced with permission. Any reprint permissions are subject to the original publisher.
As the Jerusalem correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, Bethan McKernan
Since the Israel-Gaza conflict started on October 7, journalists and media across the region have faced a hostile environment that has made reporting on the war exceptionally challenging.
In addition to documenting the growing tally of journalists killed and injured, CPJ’s research to date has found 16 incidents of journalists being targeted while carrying out their work in Israel and the two Palestinian territories, Gaza and the West Bank. These include eight arrests, as well as assaults, threats, cyberattacks and censorship. (Editor’s note: These numbers as being updated as more information becomes available.)
Several journalists have also lost family members while covering the conflict. On October 25, Wael Al Dahdouh, Al-Jazeera’s bureau chief for Gaza, lost his wife, son, daughter, and grandson when an Israel airstrike hit the Nuseirat refugee camp in the center of Gaza, according to a statement from Al-Jazeera and Politico.
In Gaza, the risks are acute. Israel has responded to Hamas’ October 7 attack on its territory with air strikes and a ground assault into the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the militant Palestinian group.
CPJ is investigating reports that dozens of media offices in Gaza were damaged, leaving many journalists with no safe place to do their jobs, as they also contend with extensive power and internet outages, food and water shortages, and sometimes have to flee with their families.
In both Gaza and Israel, journalists reporting on the war have indicated they lack personal protective equipment (PPE). CPJ has received multiple requests from freelance journalists seeking PPE, but delivering this equipment to journalists in the region is difficult. CPJ currently recommends journalists consult CPJ’s PPE guide to source their own equipment.
“Journalists in Gaza are facing exponential risk,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “But their colleagues in the West Bank and Israel are also facing unprecedented threats, assaults, and intimidation to obstruct their vital work covering this conflict.”
Journalists from outlets including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, RT Arabic, and Al-Araby TV have reported obstructions to their reporting by the Israeli police, military, and others since the conflict began. Some of those incidents include:
On October 16, journalist and columnist Israel Frey went into hiding after his home was attacked the previous day by a mob of far-right Israelis after he expressed solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, according to Haaretz and Middle East Eye.
On October 12, BBC Arabic reporters Muhannad Tutunji, Haitham Abudiab, and their team were dragged from their vehicle, searched, and held at gunpoint by police in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, despite their vehicle being marked “TV” in red tape and Tutunji and Abudiab presenting their press cards to police, the BBC reported. The broadcaster said Tutunji was struck on the neck and his phone was thrown on the ground while trying to film the incident.
In response, the Israeli police issued a statement, quoted by the BBC, that its officers noticed “a suspicious vehicle and stopped it for inspection” and searched the vehicle “for fear of possession of weapons.”
On October 7, Sky News Arabia said that its team in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon was assaulted by Israeli police. The channel’s correspondent, Firas Lutfi, said the police pointed rifles at his head, forced him to undress, confiscated their phones, and escorted them out of the area, according to Sky News Arabia and the Cairo-based Alwafd news.
The world’s eyes have been on Israel and Gaza since the October 7 attacks by the Hamas militant group that are reported to have killed at least 1,400 people in Israel.
On October 28, journalist Mohamed Bader of al-Hadath newspaper in the city of Ramallah, West Bank, gave himself up to the IDF for detention, his wife Soujoud Al-Assi and the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Rola Sarhan told CPJ. Al-Assi, also a journalist with Al-Hadath, told CPJ that she was arrested earlier that day to pressure her husband to surrender but she was later freed. On October 23, Israeli forces arrested Bader’s father and two brothers for the same reason, according to the Beirut-based press freedom group Skeyes and Al-Assi. The IDF had previously detained Bader from April until August, according to the London-based news website The New Arab and the Palestinian news website Amad.
On October 26, Lama Khater, a freelance writer with Middle East Monitor and the Palestinian news website Felesteen and a political activist, was arrested by the IDF in the city of Hebron, West Bank, her husband Hazem Fakhoury told CPJ, and Al-Jazeera and the Beirut-based press freedom group Skeyes reported. Fakhoury said he did not know the reason for his wife’s arrest but that her lawyer had told him that Khater would be transferred to administrative detention—incarceration without charge, alleging that a person plans to commit an offense. Khater was previously arrested in 2018 and detained for more than a year over her critical reporting, according to the Palestine Information Center and the Middle East Monitor.
On October 16, four Palestinian journalists—Mustafa Al-Khawaja, Sabri Jabr, Abdel Nasser Al-Laham, and Muath Amarna—were arrested in the West Bank by the IDF, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the London-based website The New Arab. CPJ spoke with the families of four of the six journalists who confirmed the arrests and said they believed their relatives had been arrested because of their social media commentary on the conflict.
On October 29, Amarna was transferred to administrative detention—incarceration without charge, alleging that a person plans to commit an offense—for six months, the Palestinian news agency Wattan and the Palestinian press freedom group MADA reported. In a statement, Amarna’s family said that the journalist needed medical care as he was diabetic and missing an eye but the IDF had refused him to take him to hospital and denied him access to a lawyer.
On October 30, Al-Jazeera’s Gaza Strip correspondent Youmna El-Sayed told the broadcaster that her husband received a threatening phone call from a private number from a man who identified himself as a member of the IDF and told the family “to leave or die,” according to the advocacy group Women In Journalism and CNN Arabic. El-Sayed told Al-Jazeera English that she felt it was too risky to drive on any road in Gaza, especially as two cars had been shelled by a tank earlier in the day and that the previous time her family had tried to flee Gaza City, they had been forced to turn back because of Israel’s bombardment of southern Gaza.
On October 15, RT Arabic correspondent Dalia Nammari and her crew, who held Israeli press cards, were stopped by Israeli police at the border for identity checks, according to RT Arabic and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. One officer threatened Dalia with his weapon and they warned the crew not to return to the location or else they risked arrest, those sources said.
On October 15, a video posted by Al-Araby TV depicted an Israeli police officer shouting and swearing at their correspondent while he was reporting live from Ashdod in southern Israel. The journalist said on air that the officer was armed.
On October 14, Al-Jazeera shared footage from an area in southern Israel near the Gaza Strip, known as the Gaza envelope, showing four IDF soldiers ordering Al-Jazeera journalists to stop filming and leave the area immediately. The incident was also covered by Arabia News 24.
CPJ’s emails requesting comment on these incidents from the IDF spokesperson for North America and the Israeli police did not receive any replies.
On October 18, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency, Wafa, experienced a cyberattack that disrupted its news website, according to Wafa and Roya News. “This attack is part of a broader effort to suppress Palestinian media and silence platforms of truth,” Wafa said. CPJ was unable to determine who carried out the attack.
On October 9, The Jerusalem Post reported that its website was down due to a series of cyberattacks the previous day. The group Anonymous Sudan claimed responsibility for these attacks on Telegram, Axios and Time magazine reported.
On October 29, Israeli authorities shut down Dream radio station, which is based in Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank, on the grounds that it was disrupting the movement of their aircraft, according to the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa, Palestinian news agency Maan, and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. The director of the station Talab Al-Jaabari told CPJ that “the head of the Israeli intelligence called me and threatened me with confiscation of equipment. There was no official order.” Dream was previously closed by the IDF in 2015 and 2022.
On October 16, Israel proposed new emergency regulations that would allow it to halt media broadcasts that harm “national morale.” Officials have threatened to close Al-Jazeera’s local offices under this proposed rule, and to block the global news outlet from freely reporting on the war.
On October 16, the IDF ordered the West Bank-based J-Media agency to shut down, according to the Palestinian press freedom group MADA and the London-based website The New Arab. In a statement, the IDF described the media outlet as “an illegal organization” and said its closure was necessary for “the sake of the security of the State of Israel and for the safety of the public and public order,” those sources said, adding that J-Media complied and ceased its operations immediately. J-Media provides footage and media services to broadcasters and covers Palestinian news, according to the Beirut-based press freedom group SKeyes and CPJ’s review of its website.
More on journalist casualties in the Israel-Gaza conflict
See our safety resources for journalists covering conflict
Mohamed Mandour joined CPJ as a Middle East and North Africa researcher in 2023. He holds a master’s degree in human rights with a minor in law and a concentration in national security and accountability from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School. Mandour previously worked as a Bassem Sabry research fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy and has been recognized as an emerging expert by the Forum on the Arms Trade. His research interests include exile activism, transnational repression, and digital repression in the MENA region. Follow him on LinkedIn.