The members of the International Press Institute (IPI), meeting at their 73nd annual General Assembly during the IPI World Congress on May 23, 2024 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, adopted by vote a resolution calling on Israel and the international community to take immediate measures to protect the safety of all journalists in Gaza. We also call on Israel to grant immediate, safe, and unimpeded access to Gaza by international media. 

Freedom of the press and the right to share and access information are universal human rights guaranteed to all, regardless of borders. These rights apply to journalists in Gaza as they do to journalists everywhere else in the world. These rights apply during times of peace and in war, when journalists put their lives on the line to share with the public essential news of the conflict and its effects from the ground. All warring parties are also legally bound under international law and international humanitarian law to ensure the safety of journalists, as civilians, during times of armed conflict. We remind all parties to the conflict of their obligation to ensure free and safe access for all journalists in the conflict zone.

At least 105 journalists have been killed since October 7, 2023 – 100 Palestinian, 2 Israeli, and 3 Lebanese – the largest number of journalists to be killed in this span of time in any modern war or conflict on record. A vast majority of these cases were Palestinian journalists killed by IDF airstrikes or bombardments, which have resulted in staggering and unacceptable civilian casualties and wide-scale devastation.

Over the past eight months, the IDF has also bombed media offices, arrested journalists, and cut off access to essential communications. This Israeli-imposed information blockade includes restrictions on international journalists from entering and reporting from the Gaza Strip, which has dramatically limited information about the war from inside Gaza.

The unprecedented spate of violence against journalists and civilians in Gaza follows years of targeted attacks on journalists and media outlets in Palestine by the IDF, including the targeted killing of veteran Al Jazeera journalist and IPI World Press Freedom Hero Shireen Abu Akleh in May 2022 – for which there still has been no accountability. At the time of her killing in May 2022, more than 20 Palestinian journalists had been killed by the IDF over the previous two decades, and no one ever has ever been charged or held accountable for these deaths.

This pattern of deadly violence against journalists in Palestine – combined with rampant impunity for these crimes – is unacceptable. The lack of accountability for these crimes not only deprives these journalists and their families of their right to justice, but is also weakening the rules-based order and the multilateral system that has served as the foundation for shared agreements between states since the end of the Second World War.

We therefore urge all states, particularly allies of Israel, to use all possible means to hold Israel to its obligation to respect the rules of war, which requires states to protect journalists, as civilians, during times of armed conflict. Both the targeted and indiscriminate killing of journalists in Gaza by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) must stop, and perpetrators of these crimes must be held fully accountable for any violations of the Geneva Conventions and other international human rights treaties and obligations.