The Unsolved Disappearance Of Palestinian Journalists Covering Israel’s War On Gaza

Two Palestinian journalists, 31-year-old Nidal Suhali Al-Waheidi and 25-year-old Haitham Abdelwahid, were last reported to be near a military checkpoint in the Northern Gaza Strip. They are suspected to be held captive by Israel.

Nidal Suhali Al-Waheidi and Haitham Abdelwahid, the two Palestinian journalists missing since October 7, 2023

Two Palestinian journalists have been reported to be missing since October 7, 2023, when they were covering the Israeli aggression near the Beit Hanoun military checkpoint in the Northern Gaza Strip. They are Nidal Suhali Al-Waheidi, 31, an internationally acclaimed photojournalist from the Al Najah Channel, and Haitham Abdelwahid, 25, from the Ain Media agency.

Nidal’s last trace can be found on his official Facebook profile where he posted for the last time on the very day of his disappearance. Since then, there has been no update from him, causing growing concerns among family, colleagues, and advocates that Israeli authorities could be holding him captive.

According to Amnesty International’s reports, Israeli human rights organisation HaMoked has filed several requests with the Israeli authorities and two petitions with the Israeli Supreme Court to demand information on the whereabouts of Nidal and Haitham and the legal grounds for their detention.

The two journalists were last seen at the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel. Since then, Israeli authorities have refused to disclose their whereabouts or the legal grounds for their arrest, conduct which amounts to enforced disappearance. “The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to disclose the fate of journalist Nidal Al-Wahidi and Haitham Abdulwahed,” said the Prisoner’s Information Office.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the legislation is not in conflict with international law, and even if it does, “the Knesset [Israeli Parliament] has the power to override the rules of international law”.

“Israel held no obligation towards residents of the Gaza Strip, given that it was a territory controlled by a terrorist organization and did not establish what were the legal framework and duties incumbent on Israel in holding Gazans,” said the Israeli Supreme Court in response to a petition by HaMoked. 

In almost three months since their disappearance, there is no information regarding their whereabouts or even confirmation if they are still alive. Nidal’s family, however, asserts that he is alive and detained somewhere in the Israeli detention camps.

Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian National Initiative party, recently tweeted that the testimonies of released Palestinian prisoners reveal they had been subjected to torture.

“The detainees are held in barracks that are unfit for life, exposed to the cold, and are given scarce food,” Barghouti said in a statement, adding that no one, including the Red Cross, is allowed to contact them or knows anything about them.

Omaya Najami, the treasurer from NPPALESTINE, an international collective of activists and photographers, expressed his concern, stating: “The only news we have of Nidal Al-Waheidi is that he is in an Israeli jail. We do not know where he is imprisoned. We are in touch with a few photographers in Gaza and they do not know his whereabouts, only that he has been taken captive.” 

Nidal was among almost a dozen Palestinian photojournalists closely associated with this organization. 

In a statement on October 7, the Palestinian Journalist’s Syndicate expressed serious apprehension over the sudden disappearance of Nidal and Abdelwahid. The loss of contact with the journalists has raised deep concerns regarding their safety and security. Urging immediate action, the Syndicate has called on the international community and humanitarian organisations to ensure their safety. They emphasised the crucial need to protect journalists as they carry out their essential work in providing information to the public. 

The situation remains critical, demanding swift global attention for the safe return of these missing journalists.