“My friends, trust in God and His mercy … If we are cut off, we will meet either in Jerusalem or in heaven,” was the last thing posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, by Ali Nissan on October 12. Al Jazeera depicts how Palestinian journalists and social media creators post every morning, updating their audience on whether they are alive on social media. If one stops posting, it is simply assumed they were killed. Palestinian journalists update followers on their lives because the Israel-Hamas war has thrown their safety into question.. However, their concern for their lives did not start on October 7, 2023. Journalists in Palestine have long lived in fear for their safety.
“I choose journalism to be close to people. It might not be easy to change the reality, but at least I could bring their voice to the world,” were the words of Shireen Abu Akleh. Time reports that the 51-year-old Palestinian-American journalist for Al Jazeera Arabic was killed while she was reporting on the Israeli military’s operations at the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank early Wednesday morning on May 11, 2022.
Abu Akleh’s close friend, Dalia Hatuqa, describes her friend to Al Jazeera. “She had an infectious laugh. She loved to travel, see the world, shop, party. She lost her mother and father when she was younger and saw so much cruelty in the world, especially in Palestine, but that never stopped her from appreciating and enjoying life.”
There are many stories similar to those of journalist Abu Akhleh. “In the beginning, I didn’t know what I was doing or what I was covering, I just wanted to document it and tell people that we are here. I am here,” said Motaz Hilal Azaiza, another photojournalist who posts on Instagram. Azaiza was born and raised in Deir al-Balah Refugee Camp in Gaza. As CAIR reports, Al-Azhar University of Gaza, the same university where Azaiza received his degree in English Language and Literature in 2021, has been completely destroyed. Azaiza was working on launching his journalism career. Little did he know that after October 7, everything would be taken from him. The New York Times depicts how the 24-year-old was watching “Friends” and working on a video for a UN agency where he worked as a part-time producer. On October 11 Azaiza reported that his best friend had died in a bombing on his family home and that members of his extended family had also been killed since October 7. Now, he is dedicated to sharing the stories of impacted Palestinian citizens on his social media.
In another article, The New York Times reports that “The Committee to Protect Journalists said that more journalists have been killed during this time than in any other in the area since it started tracking the data in 1992.” Another journalist, Mohammed Abu Hatab, a correspondent for a Palestinian television channel, and 11 members of his family were killed in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza on Nov. 2. Al Jazeera talks about what the TV station said in a statement carried by the Palestinian news agency Wafa. “Our colleague Mohammed Abu Hatab fell as a martyr along with members of his family in bombardment against his home in Khan Younis.”
These deaths highlight the toll that this conflict is having on journalists, both threatening their personal safety and forcing them to cover the deaths of friends, family, and their fellow Palestinians.