NUJ calls for protection of journalists covering the situation in Israel and Gaza
A national executive council statement says the human rights of all journalists must be respected so they can report freely on the conflict.
This National Executive notes with horror the events unfolding in Israel and Palestine. This NEC condemns the attack launched by Hamas and its allies on 7 October 2023, which targeted civilians and, in some cases has subjected them to acts of grotesque violence.
We condemn also subsequent Israeli bombing that has targeted densely populated areas, destroying residential buildings, killing civilians and displacing thousands of others. Warnings issued to residents little mitigates the consequences of such actions.
In this context the work of journalists is more important than ever, and this NEC believes the role of those who work to cover this conflict and ensure the world beyond the Middle East has a full understanding of event is vital. That includes workers covering the unfolding story in the Middle East from the UK and Ireland. This National Executive notes that (at the time of writing) our sister union the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate has already announced the deaths of journalists Said al-Taweel, Mohammed Sobboh, Hisham Nawajhah, Mohammad Al-Salhi, Ibrahim Lafi, and Mohammed Fayez Matar. Israeli journalist Yaniv Zohar was also killed in the Hamas attacks, and several other journalists are feared kidnapped. Many have been injured.
This NEC calls on all those who have taken up arms to respect the rights of journalists, and to treat journalists as civilians who deserve protection, whoever they are reporting for. These latest killings of journalists come against a pre-existing backdrop of Israeli Defence Forces targeting journalists – among them Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in 2022 – which led to IFJ’s initiative to bring action at the International Criminal Court.
The NEC also calls on Hamas and all Palestinian authorities to respect human rights and the rights of all journalists to report freely on the conflict.
This NEC calls on the Israeli Government and Defence Force to act in accordance with humanitarian principles, respect the rights to the vast majority of residents of Gaza who played no part in these attacks, and to act according to international law. Acting in such a way now can only improve the chances of a normalisation of life for all who live in the region. Those who talk about ‘a complete siege of Gaza’, and ‘fighting human animals’ simply make matters worse.
This NEC calls on all international agencies to continue to support Palestinian civic institutions, whose development is critical to Palestinians achieving a reasonable quality of life.
This NEC reaffirms its bond of friendship with our sister union, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, with whom we have enjoyed a long relationship of mutual support. PJS’ work has done much to promote and facilitate quality journalism in Palestine and safety among media workers in challenging circumstances.
This NEC also affirms its support for journalists in Israel and elsewhere who strive to cover the conflict with balance and fairness.
This NEC further condemns UK Government attempts to intervene in BBC editorial and impartiality freedoms, exercised under Ofcom rules.
Finally, this NEC calls on Unesco to intervene to create safer conditions for journalists covering the conflict on the United Nations to intervene to ensure that whatever are the medium-term arrangements for the normalisation of life in Gaza. It calls on all governments to work collectively to bring about a swift and humane end to this current instability and put their collective efforts in to establishing the foundation of meaningful and sustainable peace.