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The journalists killed in Gaza and what they tried to show the world

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Journalists in Gaza have been killed covering the war and sheltering from it. Some have died with their colleagues; others, with their families.

They tried to report any way they could, recording scenes of carnage and rare moments of calm through photos, videos and social media posts. The images they left behind — or the words they didn’t know would be their last — allowed a glimpse into the lives of besieged Palestinians in a devastating war.

At least 85 journalists and media workers, such as interpreters and support staff, have been killed over four months of war in the Middle East, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The rate, about five a week, is the highest since the CPJ began keeping global records over 30 years ago. All but seven of them were Palestinians killed in Israel’s war in Gaza. Many were freelancers or worked for local outlets, with little of the protection usually afforded to international reporters. The CPJ’s tally also includes four Israeli journalists killed on Oct. 7 in Hamas’s cross-border attack into Israel, and three Lebanese journalists killed by Israeli strikes in Lebanon, according to their media outlets.

A funeral for journalists in Gaza on Nov. 19. (Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The CPJ said it is further investigating the circumstances surrounding the killings of so many journalists. But these inquiries are constrained by the lack of access to Gaza, the large number of cases, the widespread destruction, and the killing of some family members of journalists, who would have been key witnesses.

The Washington Post provided the Israeli military with a list of the seven journalists profiled in this story and the circumstances of their deaths. The Israeli military said its forces are “operating to dismantle Hamas military and administrative capabilities” and taking “all operationally feasible measures to mitigate harm to civilians including journalists.”

At funerals in Gaza, placing blue press vests and helmets on the bodies of fallen reporters, photographers and others has become a grim ritual.

The Post has collected some of the last photos and videos these journalists shared. This is Gaza through their lens.

Issam Abdallah

Khalil Abu Aathra

Jabr Abu Hadrous

Mohamed Abu Hassira

Mohammed Abu Hatab

(Ayat Khadoura/Instagram)
Ayat Khadoura, 27
Freelance reporter
Killed on Nov. 20

Ayat Khadoura posted a video online in November. The text written across her recording reads: “My last message to the world.” For the freelancer, posting from northern Gaza about the search for food and basic needs, it wasn’t the first time she’d thought she might be filming her final moments. But this time she was right.

“We had very big dreams, but unfortunately, today our dreams are that if we are killed, we are killed in one piece,” she said.

An Israeli strike hit Khadoura’s home in northern Gaza, killing her and some of her siblings, her sister Yasmin said. She said relatives couldn’t bury Ayat because her body was blown to pieces.

“Ayat aspired to become a big journalist, to study further, to get filming equipment. So many things,” her sister said. But in her last days, Yasmin recalled, “she told me, ‘I no longer want anything. I just want the war to end.’”

Amro Salah Abu Hayah

Mohamed Naser

Abu Huwaidi

Yahya Abu Manih

Mohamed Fayez Abu Matar

Ahmed Abu Mhadi

Yasser Abu Namous

Yaacoub al-Barsh

Mohamad al-Bayyari

Hamza al-Dahdouh

Samer Abu Daqqa, 45
Al Jazeera cameraman
Killed on Dec. 15

Samer Abu Daqqa bled for hours before ambulances could reach him. He was dead by the time rescuers arrived. The Al Jazeera cameraman had gone to report on a school in Khan Younis sheltering displaced Palestinians when he was hit by an Israeli drone strike, his network said. Colleagues remembered the father of four as a veteran cameraman committed to telling the story of Gaza, and a man who loved to smile.

The night before his death, he filmed a live broadcast outside a hospital in Khan Younis with Wael al-Dahdouh, Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief. Dahdouh, injured in the strike that killed Abu Daqqa, has since evacuated to Qatar.

Dahdouh had become the stoic face of the network’s wartime coverage, going on air even after an Israeli strike killed his wife and two of his children. Another strike killed his son Hamza, who also worked for Al Jazeera. Israel accused Hamza, and a freelancer killed alongside him, of being members of militant groups — a claim the network strongly denies.

Jamal al-Faqaawi

Saed al-Halabi

Mohammed Ali

Mohamad al-Iff

Mohamed al-Jaja

Shaima al-Jazzar

Rabih al-Maamari

Ahmad Jamal al-Madhoun

Nazmi al-Nadim

How the Gaza war compares with other conflicts

Israel’s offensive in Gaza has wrought a level of devastation that outpaces other recent conflicts, with more than 27,000 people killed, according to Gaza health authorities, since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that killed nearly 1,200 people.

In Gaza, the number of journalists and media workers killed — 78 — has surpassed the total around the world in all of 2022, the CPJ’s data shows. It has already overtaken the number killed in the two-decade conflict in Afghanistan. And it has exceeded the toll for the deadliest year of the Iraq War for journalists.

Palestinian reporters are “bearing the brunt of the Israeli army’s fire, which killed more journalists in 10 weeks than any other army or entity has in a single year since 1992,” said Sherif Mansour, coordinator of the CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

Rate of journalists killed by day

Journalists killed by year and country

The killings in Gaza make it harder to report on a war already shrouded by internet blackouts, damage to media offices and communication networks, and Israeli restrictions on the entry of fuel needed to power equipment, press freedom groups say. Foreign journalists have tried but largely remain barred from entering via Israel and Egypt, which control the borders. Only a few have been allowed in as embeds with Israel’s military.

This all threatens to turn the enclave into “an information black hole,” said Anne Boccandé, editorial director at Reporters Without Borders.

Now, danger and despair have pushed some journalists to abandon reporting, or to leave Gaza if they can. Motaz Azaiza, a photojournalist who gained more than 18 million followers while documenting the war on Instagram, was evacuated to Qatar last month. “Goodbye, Gaza. I wish to walk in your streets again,” he said in a video.

Sameeh al-Nady

Hisham al-Nawajah

Ahmed al-Qara Iyad al-Ruwagh

Mohammad al-Salhi

Gaza City, Nov. 20, 2023. Montaser al-Sawaf’s photos documented the aftermath of Israeli strikes and fighting in Gaza. (Photo by Montaser Alsawaf/Anadolu Agency)
Montaser al-Sawaf, 33
Photojournalist and freelance cameraman for Anadolu Agency
Killed on Dec. 1

Montaser al-Sawaf went around on his bicycle photographing the ruins of Gaza’s buildings, his colleagues remembered. “Yesterday, there was a street here, homes, children, and dreams,” he wrote under one photo.

Among his last Instagram posts was a selfie showing his injured eye after he survived a bombardment that killed his parents and other family members. Days later, Anadolu reported that Israeli strikes had killed Sawaf and a brother in Gaza City. “He didn’t give up until his last moment,” recalled Turgut Alp Boyraz, the agency’s regional news manager. “He said, ‘Somebody has to do the job.’”

A screenshot of a Facebook post by Belal Jadallah, head of Press House, which he posted before being killed in Gaza. (Obtained by The Washington Post)
Belal Jadallah, 45
Director of Press House — Palestine
Killed on Nov. 19

Belal Jadallah was often called the “father figure” of journalism in Gaza. He founded Press House, a media center that grew into a community, especially for budding journalists. It offered training courses, started a news agency and provided press vests and helmets. “Belal devoted his life to building an independent media landscape,” said founding member and friend Hikmat Yousef.

In a Facebook post before his death, Jadallah paid tribute to a slain colleague at Press House: “Words cannot express my sadness for this painful loss,” he wrote.

Jadallah was planning to evacuate south, Yousef said, when he was killed in his car by Israeli shelling in Gaza City.

Mosab Ashour, 22
Freelance videographer
Killed on Oct. 22

It was Mosab Ashour’s last year in college. The media student was freelancing in video and media production as he worked to make a name for himself in the industry.

In one of his last videos, captioned “Words from Gaza,” he asked, “Who is listening?”

Before the war, his posts had shown him filming, traveling and singing. In his last phone call with an uncle, Ashour said he wanted to leave Gaza. Not long after, he was killed in an Israeli strike in the Nuseirat refugee camp, his uncle said.

“I follow my dream,” Ashour had posted a few weeks earlier, when he turned 22.

Mostafa al-Sawaf

Akram al-Shafie

Saeed al-Taweel

Mohamed Jamal Sobhi al-Thalathini

Imad al-Wahidi

Abdallah Alwan

Mohamed Nabil al-Zaq

Mohamed al-Zaytouniyah

Yazan al-Zuweidi

A photo from Majd Arandas’s series “My Grandmother” (2022). (Majd Arandas)
Majd Arandas, 29
Photographer
Killed on Nov. 1

Majd Arandas wanted to document Palestinians living. A photo series he did before the war focused on his grandmother. He photographed people eating or children playing despite Israeli bombardment and siege, said Mohamed Somji, director of the Gulf Photo Plus photography center, who recalled Arandas saying, “These are the photos I want people to remember.” The images resonated, Somji thinks, because “there’s a form of resistance that comes through sharing moments of joy.”

An Israeli strike killed Arandas near his home in the Nuseirat refugee camp, friends said. In a voice message he had recently sent to Somji, he described wanting to travel and show Gazans a world “they’re prevented from seeing.”

Iyad Matar

Ayelet Arnin

Mohammed Atallah

Ola Atallah

Abdelhalim Awad

Mostafa Bakeer

Mohammad Balousha

Ahmed Bdeir

Issam Bhar

Roshdi Sarraj stands amid rubble in Gaza in a photo he posted online on Oct. 17. (Ain Media)
Roshdi Sarraj, 31
Filmmaker and co-founder of Ain Media
Killed on Oct. 22

Roshdi Sarraj appealed for the safety of Gaza’s journalists days before he was killed. He was mourning after the killing of a colleague at Ain Media, the company he co-founded. “We need international protection,” he said in a voice message to The Post in October.

Family members and colleagues said an Israeli strike killed Sarraj at his parents’ home. Alice Froussard, a French journalist who worked with Sarraj, said he covered war and “experienced it at the same time, always with the nightmarish thought of having to recount the death of a friend.”

Abdullah Darwish

Yousef Maher Dawas

Hassan Farajallah

Ahmed Fatima

Abdulhadi Habib

Adham Hassouna

Roee Idan

Duaa Jabbour

Mohammad Jarghoun

Majed Kashko

Haneen Kashtan

Ahmed Khaireddine

Mohamed Khaireddine

Mohamed Khalifeh

Mohammed Imad Labad

Ibrahim Mohammad Lafi

Sari Mansour

Iyad Matar

Salam Mema

Salma Mkhaimer

Mohamed Mouin Ayyash

Assem Kamal Moussa

Husam Mubarak

Farah Omar

Shai Regev

Hassouneh Salim

Assaad Shamlakh

Duaa Sharaf

Ahmed Shehab

Mohammed Sobh

Yaniv Zohar

Adel Zorob

About this story

Design and development by Irfan Uraizee.

Editing by Reem Akkad, Joseph Moore, Olivier Laurent and Samuel Granados. Video editing by Joseph Snell. Copy editing by Martha Murdock.

Sources: Data and names as of Feb. 8 from the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Testimonies are based on interviews with colleagues, friends or relatives, with additional information from their social media accounts. The names of journalists are listed in alphabetical order, except for the people profiled.

Miriam Berger, Hajar Harb and Niha Masih contributed to this report.

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