There was a vigil for Palestinian journalists on the steps of the New York Public Library last night.
At 5:30PM yesterday evening, New York City media workers began gathering on the steps of the New York Public Library at Bryant Park to honor the lives and work of the Palestinian journalists killed by Israel since October 7.
Representatives from the News Guild, the National Writers Union, and Writers Against the War on Gaza were among a group of around fifty demonstrators, many of whom left lit candles (as well as signs of protest and solidarity, mourning and remembrance) on the steps of the iconic NYC landmark.
Katie Smith, an independent reporter and photojournalist who covers protests and social movements in New York City, was there to capture the event, which featured a reading of the names of the 66 Palestinian journalists and media workers known to have been killed (dozens more have been reported wounded or missing) since Israel’s latest assault on Gaza began on October 7, a call to honor and elevate the stories of both living and deceased Palestinian journalists, and a recitation of slain writer and activist Refaat Alareer‘s final poem, “If I Must Die.”
The crowd is silent as an organizer reads Refaat Alareer’s poem, “If I must die”
Refaat was killed in an Israeli strike on the Gaza Strip on Dec. 7 pic.twitter.com/d3FXBxcAJ4
— katie smith (@probablyreadit) December 19, 2023
Israel’s war on Gaza has been one of the deadliest conflicts for journalists and media workers in modern history, with almost as many killed in the besieged enclave in seventy days as were killed worldwide in 2022. Compounding the severity of these numbers is the fact that Israel has been widely and credibly accused of targeting journalists and their families, accusations which call to mind the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank in 2022, as well as a sobering Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report, published in May, which showed that the majority of the 20 journalists killed by the Israeli military in the past 22 years had press insignia visible on their bodies and their vehicles at the time of their deaths.
Many journalists in Gaza have now stopped wearing their press vests entirely, as they believe being identified as members of the press could make them and their families targets for Israeli forces.
Media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) last week filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court for “war crimes” over the deaths of journalists killed in Gaza since October 7. This echoed calls for war crime investigations by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which determined in independent inquiries that Israeli forces had likely deliberately targeted reporters covering the hostilities.
This blatant attempt by Israel to eliminate Gaza’s journalistic firmament has prompted relatively little public outrage and condemnation from media institutions and press freedom groups here in the United States.
As Karen Attiah wrote in a damning Washington Post op-ed on Monday:
For months after [the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi], U.S. media institutions, democracy organizations and press freedom groups decried Jamal’s killing, parading their commitment to ensuring the safety of journalists and protecting Arab voices for freedom and dissent. Organizations such as Freedom House and the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) were highly vocal then; HRF eventually produced a feature-length documentary film about his case.
Compare that with some of these institutions’ silence or relative muted-ness today on the record-shattering death toll of journalists covering Israel’s assault on Gaza, and it is hard not to feel as if the parades for Jamal were for show.
As CPJ has reported, there has never been true accountability for Israel when it comes to journalist killings. And the consequences are devastating: The slaughter of Palestinian journalists is an erasure of those attempting to record the first rough draft of history in Gaza.
As of December 18, the International Federation of Journalists has documented the killings of the following 66 Palestinian journalists and media workers, many of whom were killed alongside multiple members of their families:
Mohammad Jarghoun, Smart Media, killed on 7 October
Ibrahim Lafi, Ain Media news agency, killed on 7 October
Mohammad Al-Salhi, photojournalist for news agency Fourth Authority, killed on 7 October
Asaad Shamlakh, freelance journalist, killed on 8 October
Said Al-Tawil, director of Al-Khamisa news agency, killed on 10 October
Mohammed Sobboh, photojournalist for a news agency in Gaza, killed on 10 October
Hisham Al-Nawajha, photographer for Khabar news agency in Gaza, killed on 10 October
Salam Meimah, journalist for Al Quds Radio, killed on 10 October
Mohammed Fayez Yousef Abu Matar, freelance photographer, killed on 11 October
Ahmed Shehab, producer of Voice of Prisoners Radio, killed on 12 October
Hossam Mubarak, Al Aqsa TV, killed on 13 October
Yousef Dawwas, freelance journalist, killed on 14 October
Abdul Hadi Habib, Al Aqsa TV, killed on 16 October
Isam Bahar, Al Aqsa TV, killed on 17 October
Mohammed Balousha, Palestine TV, killed on 17 October
Samih Al-Nadi, director and producer of Al Aqsa TV, killed on 18 October
Khalil Abu Athra, cameraman for Al Aqsa TV, killed on 19 October
Muhammad Abu Ali, Al-Shabab radio, killed on 20 October
Hani Madhoun, administrative staff for Al Aqsa TV, killed on 21 October
Roshdi Sarraj, co-founder of Ain Media, photojournalist, filmmaker and fixer for several international media such as Radio France, killed on 22 October
Mohammed Imad Labad, journalist, killed on 23 October
Saed al-Halabi, Al-Aqsa TV, killed on 25 October
Ahmed Abu Mahadi, Al-Aqsa TV, killed on 25 October
Salma Mukhaimar, journalist, killed on 25 October
Jamal Al-Faqawi, journalist for Mithaq Media Network, killed on 25 October
Zaher Al-Afghani, journalist for Mithaq Media Network, killed on 25 October
Duaa Sharaf, journalist, killed on 26 October
Yasser Abu Namous, journalist, killed on 27 October
Nazmi Al-Nadim, deputy director of finance and administration for Palestine TV, killed on 30 October
Majd Kashkou, media worker for Palestine TV, killed on 31 October
Imad Wahidi, media worker for Palestine TV, killed on 31 October
Majd Fadl Arandas, journalist for news website Al-Jamahir, killed on 1 November
Mohammed Abu Hatab, correspondent for Palestine TV, killed on 2 November
Mohammed Bayyari, journalist for Al Aqsa TV, killed on 2 November
Iyad Matar, journalist, killed on 2 November
Mohammed Al Jajeh, Press House, killed on 6 November
Mohammad Abu Hasira, correspondent for WAFA news agency, body found under the rubble on 7 November
Yahya Abu Munie, journalist for Al Aqsa radio, killed on 7 November
Ahmed Al-Qara, photojournalist, killed on 10 November
Mousa Al Barsh, executive director of Namaa Radio, killed on 12 November
Ahmed Fatmah, photographer for Al Qahera News, killed on 13 November
Mahmoud Matar, freelance journalist, killed on 15 November
Moseab Ashour, photographer, killed on 18 November
Mustafa Al-Sawaf, journalist and writer, killed on 18 November
Amr Abu Haya, media worker in Al Aqsa TV, killed on 18 November
Saary Mansour, director of Quds News Network, killed on 18 November
Hasouned Isleem, freelance photographer, killed on 18 November
Bilal Jadallah, director general of media development organisation Press House, killed on 19 November
Abdelhalim Awad, driver for Al Aqsa TV, killed on 18 November
Ayat Al-Khaddura, digital and broadcaster journalist, killed on 20 November
Jamal Hanieh, editor at Amwaj Sports Media Network, killed on 21 November
Mohamad Nabil Al-Zaq, journalist for Quds TV, killed on 22 November
Assem Al-Barsh, journalist for Palestinian Al-Ray radio, killed on 22 November
Muhammad Moin Ayyash, photojournalist, killed on 23 November
Amal Zahed, journalist, killed on 24 November
Mustafa Bakir, journalist, killed on 24 November
Nader Al-Nazli, technician for Palestine TV, killed on 25 November
Abdallah Darwish, photojournalist for Al Aqsa TV, killed on 1 December
Muntaser Al-Sawaf, photographer for Anadolu Agency, killed on 1 December
Adham Hassouna, freelance journalist, killed on 1 December
Hassan Farajallah, executive at Al Quds TV, killed on 3 December
Ala Atallah, journalist, killed on 9 December
Mohamed Abu Samra, photojournalist, killed on 9 December
Abdul Karim Odeh, journalist and former Al-Mayadeen correspondent, killed on 13 December
Samer Abu Daqqa, cameraman for Al Jazeera Arabic, killed on 15 December
Haneen Ali Al-Qashtan, journalist for Sawt Al Watan Radio, killed on 17 December