ICC Confirms Probe into Israel’s Killing of Journalists – Reporters Without Borders

Samer Abu Daqqa was killed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The office of the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, has confirmed to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) that “crimes against journalists” are included in its ongoing investigation into the situation in Palestine.

This follows the two last complaints filed by the Paris-based RSF with the International Criminal Court, the first on October 31 and the second on December 22, which called on the prosecutor “to investigate all Palestinian journalists killed by the Israeli army.”

According to RSF, Khan had never publicly spoken about the fate of journalists. Therefore, the message that the NGO received from his office on January 5, “is of course crucial information in a terrible context for journalists in Gaza.”

RSF said that Khan’s office “stated for the first time that crimes against journalists were included in its investigation.”

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The statement assured the RSF that “crimes against journalists are being examined by the prosecutor’s office, among other potential crimes, as part of the ongoing investigation into the situation in Palestine, and RSF’s objectives and actions must be supported and are of crucial importance in Gaza and elsewhere.”

It added that “Journalists are protected by international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute and must not under any circumstances be targeted in the exercise of their important mission.”

RSF Welcomes ‘Long Overdue’ Investigation

Christophe Deloire, the Secretary General of RSF, welcomed the announcement by the ICC prosecutor’s office, saying “Only a thorough investigation will establish the immense extent of the war crimes against media professionals.”

Deloire added: “We hope that its investigation moves forward quickly and leads to concrete action: it is necessary and long overdue. 

In its October 31 complaint – the third filed since 2018 – RSF detailed the cases of nine journalists killed in the course of their work since October 7. It also cites “the deliberate, total or partial, destruction of the premises of more than 50 media outlets in Gaza.” 

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On December 22, RSF filed “a war crimes complaint” with the ICC regarding the deaths of seven Palestinian journalists killed in Gaza between October 22 and December 15. RSF  urged the ICC prosecutor to investigate all of the deaths of Palestinian journalists killed by the Israeli military since 7 October, which at the time totalled 66. 

RSF said it had “reasonable grounds to believe that the journalists named in this complaint were the victims of attacks amounting to war crimes.”

According to the information collected by RSF, these journalists may have been deliberately targeted as journalists.

“It is for this reason that RSF is describing these deaths as intentional homicides of civilians,” the NGO said.

Targeted Killings of Journalists

Amongst the journalists named in the last complaint were Asem Al-Barsh, an Al Najah radio journalist killed by sniper fire; Montaser Al-Sawaf, whose home was targeted twice by missile fire; Hassouna Salim of the Quds News agency, killed by a missile after receiving death threats; Sari Mansour, a photo-journalist for Quds News, who died in the same attack; and Samer Abu Daqqa, an Al Jazeera correspondent who appears to have been killed by a precision shot fired from a drone that also wounded Al Jazeera bureau chief Wael Dahdouh.

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RSF said that it has constantly documented the crimes committed against journalists in Palestine. 

On March 3, 2021, the ICC prosecutor’s office announced the opening of a formal investigation into the situation in Palestine.

Gaza’s Government Media Office said on Monday that 112 Palestinian journalists have been killed in the Israeli bombardment of the enclave, since October 7. Since then, another three journalists have reportedly been killed in the Gaza Strip.

US National Security Council spokesperson, John Kirby, maintains that “we still don’t have any indications that they (Israel) are deliberately targeting journalists.” 

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“In an ongoing dynamic conflict such as this, we are not going to make ourselves judge and jury over every single airstrike and every single kinetic event that happens on the battlefield,” Kirby reportedly told reporters in December.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 23,357 Palestinians have been killed, and 59,410 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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