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Shooting The Messenger: 100th Journalist Killed In Israel's War On Gaza, Says Media Office

There were around 1,000 journalists in the Gaza Strip before Israel mounted war on Gaza. With 100 reported dead, as many as 10% of Gaza's press corps has been killed.

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For journalists in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli War on Gaza is not just another assignment. It is personal. Among the scores of wastelands —once bustling neighbourhoods— dotting Gaza are also the houses and streets of journalists who are sharing everyone's stories. Among the dead and wounded are also their family members and colleagues. 

As the eyes and ears of the world, journalists have often found themselves at the receiving end of the guns and cannons in wars. Gaza is no different. 

Just two days before Christmas —just 70 kms from where Jesus was born in Bethlehem— Gaza reached a grim milestone of 100 dead journalists since Israel mounted the war on the Palestinian enclave, according to a report. 

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Gaza's Media Office, which is run by Hamas that seized power in the Palestinian enclave in 2007, said on Saturday that an Israeli airstrike had killed Palestinian journalist Muhammed Abu Hweidy, who was the 100th journalist to be killed since Israel began bombing Gaza on October 7, according to Al Jazeera. 

"The number of journalists killed has risen to 100, men and women, since the start of the brutal war on the Gaza Strip, after the martyrdom of journalist Mohammed Abu Hweidy in an Israeli airstrike in the Shujaiya neighbourhood," the Media Office was quoted as saying.

For years, journalists in Gaza have faced the double whammy of Israeli hostilities as well as an authoritarian Hamas leadership in telling the stories of Palestinians in the enclave, who have been living amid an Israel- and Egypt-imposed blockade since 2007. For these two reasons, it had never been safe to tell the stories from Gaza, but the Israeli War on Gaza has taken that unsafety to unimaginable proportions as death rains from the skies around the clock. As the writers of the first rough drafts of history, journalists on the frontlines have been facing the brunt of the Israeli campaign since the beginning of the war. 

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While Gazan officials say the numbers could be higher than 100, the figures cannot be independently verified. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says at least 69 journalists and media workers have been killed in the Israeli War on Gaza so far. 

Besides the 69 killed, 15 have been reported injured, three have been reported missing while on duty, and 20 have been reported to have been arrested, according to CPJ.

"Multiple assaults, threats, cyberattacks, censorship, and killings of family members...CPJ is also investigating numerous unconfirmed reports of other journalists being killed, missing, detained, hurt, or threatened, and of damage to media offices and journalists’ homes," says CPJ on its website. 

Whether 69 or 100, the toll is extremely high. Before Israel declared the war, there were about 1,000 journalists in Gaza, according to Tim Dawson, Deputy General Secretary at the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). That would mean as many as 10 per cent of all journalists may have been killed.

Dawson told Al Jazeera, "I don't think we have seen a death toll of journalists to this concentration in any conflict that I can think of. There were about 1,000 journalists in Gaza at the beginning of this conflict. And while there are slightly different counts of precisely how many have died, if between seven-and-a-half and 10 per cent have died, that is an extraordinarily high number."

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Dawson further said that the journalists in Gaza "only have cameras, microphones and notebooks and continue doing their work despite this absolutely mind-blowing death toll". When asked if Israel is targeting journalists, Dawson said some Palestinian journalists told him they "received threatening calls from people" purporting to be from the Israeli military who were "warning them that they are going to be targeted or that their families are going to be targeted in the coming days".

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