Brussels, 13 October 2023 – Since the outbreak of the armed conflict between Hamas and Israel, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has been in constant dialogue with its Palestinian affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS), who organise journalists in the Gaza Strip, as well as being in contact Israeli journalists. The IFJ and its affiliates around the world call on Unesco to do its utmost to protect journalists and demand that the warring parties de-escalate the violence, which will only result in civilian casualties, particularly journalists.
Since 7 October 2023 and the first Hamas attack, thousands of Palestinian and Israeli civilians have been killed, including journalists and media workers. Among them, the IFJ counts many colleagues who have been killed, injured or kidnapped. On the night of 13 October 2023, the Israeli army asked more than one million Palestinians in the north of the Gaza Strip to move to the south of the territory in order to carry out military actions. The IFJ is concerned about the consequences for civilians and journalists. The IFJ therefore calls on both warring parties to respect international humanitarian law and the United Nations Charter.
The IFJ, the International Trade Union Confederation and Uni-Global, representing more than 220 million workers worldwide, call on their members to express their solidarity with the workers in the region affected by this war.
Furthermore, the IFJ, the only professional organisation representing journalists at the United Nations – as it has since 1953 – solemnly calls on the Director General of UNESCO, the United Nations agency responsible for the protection and safety of journalists, to do everything possible to ensure that journalists in the region, both national and foreign, are able to carry out their mission of informing the public in complete safety. According to the PJS, no foreign journalists currently report from the Gaza Strip or have access to enter the region to cover this conflict. Only Palestinian journalists can report on what is happening. It is therefore urgent that the United Nations and in particular UNESCO protect these journalists and their rights and maintain their access to the internet and other communications so they can inform the local Palestinian population and the world about the war in Gaza.
In addition, the battle against disinformation is one of the pillars of the IFJ’s Global Ethics Charter for Journalists, which must remain the backbone of journalists’ professional principles; being well informed is one of the first rights of a citizen.
Finally, the IFJ and its PJS safety trainers in the field have taken into account the particular situation of working conditions for journalists in the Gaza Strip by updating its safety advice and calling on all newsrooms – especially employers – to protect its reporters in the field.