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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Several Israeli Attacks on TV Journalists Wearing Press Insignia

Friday , 12 April 2024

On Friday, April 12, 2024, four Palestinian journalists were injured by an Israeli shell while they were reporting in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. Sami Shehadeh and Sami Barhoom were covering war-related events for the TRT Arabic TV channel, Ahmad Harb was on duty for Al Arabiya TV at the time of the incident, and CNN stringer Mohammad Al-Sawalhi was also struck by shrapnel, resulting in a slight injury to his right hand and bruising on his left leg, according to TRT WorldArab NewsAl-JazeeraCNN, and RT Arabic. The journalists were transferred to Shohada Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, where Shehadeh had his leg amputated.

A video captured by Al-Jazeera shows a shell being fired in an open residential area, followed by a group of journalists and others carrying Shehadeh, who is wearing a press vest and helmet—as were other journalists in the area of the attack. In the background, a journalist can be heard saying, “His right leg is blown off,” and added, It’s a direct targeted attack on journalists.”    


Shehadeh told Arab News that the group was in a relatively safe spot wearing press armor and helmets. “Even the car I arrived in was labeled ‘TV,’ and I’m a civilian and a journalist — they targeted us,” he said.

Right after the attack, while still in the hospital, Shehadeh appealed to the international community in a TRT video, asking, “Why do you ask us to wear press armor and helmets? The IDF clearly recognizes us as journalists wearing press vests, yet they still target us. Please put an end to this.”

In two interviews with Al-Jazeera Palestine and TRT Arabi, Barhoum mentioned that he and Shehadeh were in an open area with other journalists working for international media outlets and should have been easily identifiable by Israel Defense Forces tanks and drones, which were not close to them.  “As soon as I started speaking in front of the camera, a shell was directly fired at us, without warning, hitting me and Shehadeh,” he said “This was a targeted attack,” he added to Al-Jazeera, “and this is not the first time it has happened. But we will continue to cover because this is our moral and professional duty.”

In an interview with TRT following the attack on Friday afternoon, Türkiye’s Communications Director, Fahrettin Altun, strongly condemned the attack and added, “No matter what, we will continue to tell the world about Israel’s atrocities against civilians.”  Additionally, the United Nations said the Israeli attack on TRT Arabi team is yet another example of the dangers journalists face in Gaza and called for a “transparent and credible” probe.

CPJ research has documented a consistent pattern of IDF attacking journalists wearing visible press insignia. A May 2023 report found that of the 20 journalists killed by the Israeli military in the preceding 22 years, at least 13 were clearly identifiable as members of the media or were inside vehicles with press insignia at the time of their deaths, including the Palestinian American television journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Since the start of the Israel-Gaza war on October 7, 2023, several journalists have been killed or injured by IDF fire while wearing press insignia. On October 13, Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah was killed while wearing a press vest and helmet as he recorded cross-border shelling in Lebanon. On December 15, Al-Jazeera cameraperson Samer Abu Daqqa bled to death after Israeli authorities prevented his evacuation following what was believed to be an IDF drone attack. This attack also injured Al-Jazeera journalist Wael Al Dahdouh. Both Al Dahdouh and Abu Daqqa were wearing vests marked as ”press.”

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