More than 50 journalists have lost their lives so far as a result of Israel’s war against Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups in the occupied Gaza Strip.
At the same time, journalists testify that the Israeli military is actively preventing them from reporting on the horrors of the war, denying them access to the area, deciding who they can talk to and censoring their material.
Proletären magazine interviewed Magda Gad of the Swedish newspaper Expressen, one of the few Swedish journalists to report from Gaza, and she highlighted the severe restrictions on the press and media.
Journalists are not only persecuted, but also become victims of the war and its aftermath – including those who have paid with their lives.
– Palestinian journalists I have met … are under constant stress. They are afraid to do their jobs and afraid to leave their homes, she says.
The situation for journalists in Israel and Palestine is extremely problematic. Many foreign journalists are denied access to Gaza, while those who are allowed in are severely restricted in their reporting by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
Restrictions include limited time, strict rules on photography, and controlled communication with people. The IDF also censors the material it collects.
– The IDF reviews and censors the material if they wish. When journalists have asked if they can interview Palestinians they see from a distance, the answer has been no, says Gad.
– Despite international journalists joining forces to protest, nothing has changed. I have not seen this kind of restriction and censorship in any other war I have covered, she continues.
In Israel, too, journalists face daily obstacles to their work. They are not allowed to work freely in southern Israel, either on the border with Gaza or in the places attacked by Hamas on October 7. The IDF organizes special press trips and carefully controls who journalists are allowed to meet, while they (the IDF) themselves spread unverifiable information.
– The IDF has organized press trips to kibbutzim and to the area of the music festival, where journalists are loaded onto buses. IDF spokesmen say the goal is for the journalists to tell them that Hamas is worse than ISIS and to help build support for Israel through their reporting.
A similar situation exists in the occupied West Bank. It is also difficult for foreign journalists to work there because of closed roads and checkpoints. Magda Gad describes several attacks by Israeli soldiers and difficulties accessing Palestinian areas.
– It doesn’t help to say you’re a journalist when you come to a closed road. I have been scolded by Israeli soldiers at roadblocks in the West Bank for trying to enter Palestinian areas. They’ve said things like there are only terrorists on that side who rape women and slaughter children, that Palestinians in the West Bank are worse than ISIS, they’ve suspected me of wanting to interview Palestinians.
– It should be added that once I was on the ground in Palestinian cities and towns, I was not prevented from working by any Palestinian or Palestinian group, but was able to work freely.
She compares the situation in Israel and Palestine to other war zones where she has not experienced similar controls and restrictions. She highlights the frustration of journalists on the ground about the dehumanization of Palestinians and how Israeli war crimes do not receive the same attention as others.
Regarding information from the Israeli military as a source, Magda Gad warns against considering it impartial or truthful.
– Absolutely no information from any military should be taken as objective and true information. The military that is at war has no interest in disseminating objective and true information; they are not journalists, they are belligerents whose job it is to disseminate information that will help them in their war.