Social and political analyst Bushra Shaikh blasts Israel for blocking reporters from entering Gaza while hailing the brave citizen journalists dodging death to expose the genocide of Palestinians.
While Israel deliberately blocks foreign media from entering Gaza, much of what international news channels have had to rely on is the courageous journalism of already devastated, hungry and exhausted Gaza-based Palestinians.
These young individuals have earned the centre stage for bravery despite grief, fear and continuous shelling.
As of December 6, an article published by the Committee to Protect Journalists showed at least 63 journalists and media workers were among the more than 17,000 killed since the war began on October 7 – with more than 16,000 Palestinian deaths in Gaza and the West Bank.
The deadliest day of the war for journalistic deaths was its first day, October 7, with six journalists killed; the second-deadliest day occurred on November 18, with five killed.
Despite this, and with a severe lack of electricity to charge phones or cameras, Gaza’s now world-famous Palestinian citizen journalists Motaz Azaiza, Plestia Alaqad and Bisan Owda have managed to capture much of the undeniable atrocities taking place all over Gaza around the clock.
But since Israel’s unprecedented onslaught of Palestinians in Gaza, it hasn’t taken many too long to question the lack of foreign journalists on the ground. In a time like war, the assumption would be to have credible news output available for public consumption as part of balanced news coverage. However, according to widespread reports, Israeli authorities are not letting journalists into the Gaza strip due to “safety concerns.”
Still, many outlets such as from European channel France24 have pushed back at Israel with a petition claiming “a war needs field reporting from both sides. We understand the risks.”
Earlier on in the ground invasion, amid intense pressure, we saw Israel actually permit a handful of mainstream journalists into Gaza but under strict conditions. The restrictions appear to have included not having any communication with any Palestinian civilians and to follow a pre-designated tour route, while under close IDF supervision and with short time restrictions.
Again, the excuse of “safety concerns” was raised but ultimately, the question of safety should be a choice for professional journalists to make, not for Israel’s regime to dictate.
Seems to me that there is something the IDF wish journalists and the wider public not to know about. Could seeing the true scale of the widespread devastation in Gaza affect Israel negatively? Bad press in any war is highly damaging for the culprit country and its government.
On X, Sky News special correspondent Alex Crawford posted a long, detailed thread in which she stated: “There’s a queue of foreign journalists from every country on the planet wanting to get in. We are being blocked.” Crawford went on to mention Egypt, claiming Cairo is not letting the media through the Rafah border crossing to enter Gaza either.
So it is fair to question such a decision by Israel. Do they not want press witnessing possible war crimes? What is there to hide?
The indiscriminate killings of over 16,000 Palestinians, with 40,000 injured (numbers being shared by the Gaza Health Ministry), doesn’t require much to understand the level of brutality inflicted.
According to Palestinian-American lawyer Lara Elborno, Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip fall under the definition of genocide as it is “clearly committing three of the five genocidal acts under the international treaties.” In an interview with Anadolu Agency earlier this week, Elborno explained in detail how Israel must be held responsible for its crimes this time.
“If it is not held responsible for its crimes … then what does that say about not only the entire framework of international law, which was developed post World War II for the purpose of preventing and sanctioning genocide, but also the international institutions which have been established for the purpose of promoting accountability… Failure to act now would mean that international law and institutions are essentially obsolete, completely ineffective and should be dismantled.”
The harsh realities from inside Gaza
Meanwhile, Instagram, Tiktok and X are only a handful of the social media apps Motaz and other brave Palestinian content creators are using to share their cataclysmic reality. At times, performing 24 hours’ live coverage with no sleep, witnessing the most traumatising blood shed with only their sheer determination to tell the truth keeping them going.
Millions of us around the world have the built such huge respect for these fearless Palestinians heroes who continue to risk what little safety is left to capture a live genocide happening right in front of our very eyes! As heart-breaking as it is, their journalism has changed how horrific war can be and how soul-destroying it can be to covered it for those native citizen journalists, some of which, were never planning to be war correspondents to begin with.
Israel undermined their value and capabilities to reach global attention. But it has most certainly opened the hearts, minds and eyes of many globally about how easily the public can be manipulated into believing any “story telling” when only one side has a monopoly on resources and control.
If today was 10 years ago and only limited footage were available from inside Gaza, perhaps public opinion would look very different.
Facing a serious PR defeat, the Israeli propaganda machine has since began manufacturing tale after tale, accusation after accusation, in many cases without any hard evidence, in order to counter the authenticity of the Gaza bombardment. The Gaza genocide.
In the profound words of Lebanese-American Christian writer Khalil Gibran: “A truth can walk naked but a lie always needs to be dressed.”
X profile: @Bushra1Shaikh