Palestinian journalists covering Gaza receive 2024 IPI-IMS World Press Free

Palestinian journalists covering the war in Gaza are the recipients of the 2024 IPI-IMS World Press Freedom Hero award. 

This year marks the first time that the award has been given to a group of journalists collectively. It recognizes the extraordinary courage and resilience that Palestinian journalists have demonstrated in covering the war in Gaza. Under the most dire of circumstances, they have risked their lives to be the world’s eyes and ears.

Since October, with foreign and Israeli journalists barred by Israel from entering Gaza, Palestinian journalists have shouldered the responsibility of reporting inside the territory. They have persevered despite airstrikes, communication blackouts, displacement, the devastating loss of children, partners, parents and other family members, and an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe.

The toll has been immense. At least 105 journalists and media workers have been killed in the region since the start of the war eight months ago. This is far more than in any modern war or conflict in this span of time on record. Of these, the vast majority were Palestinian journalists killed by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

The IPI-IMS World Press Freedom Hero award honours journalists who have displayed tremendous courage and resilience in fighting for media freedom and the free flow of news. The year’s award will be presented during a special ceremony at the IPI World Congress and Media Innovation Festival in Sarajevo on May 23.

Profiles in courage

Palestinian journalists in Gaza have played an unfathomable price to cover the news. The list includes Wael Dahdouh, Al Jazeera Arabic’s Gaza bureau chief. Dahdouh has continued reporting despite unimaginable suffering. Last October, an Israeli airstrike killed his wife, son, daughter, and grandson. Later, Dahdouh was wounded in a drone strike that left a colleague, Samer Abudaqa, dead. Then, in January, Hamza Dahdouh, a journalist like his father, was killed in a targeted Israeli missile strike in Khan Younis, Gaza.

The award also recognizes and pays tribute to media freedom defenders such as Bilal Jadallah, often referred to as the “father figure” of journalism in Gaza. On November 19th, 2023, Jadallah was killed when his car was hit by Israeli shelling. For many years, Jadallah had been the face of independent journalism in Gaza. He founded Press House Palestine in 2013 with a mission to promote press freedom, offer legal protection for journalists, and serve as a sanctuary for reporters covering the region. 

In February, an Israeli strike destroyed the building of Press House Palestine. The Press House said the building had contained equipment essential for journalists navigating the challenges of the war.

This award also recognizes the critical work of local support organizations for Gaza journalists, such as Filastiniyat. A finalist for this year’s IPI-IMS Free Media Pioneer award, Filastiniyat has provided aid such as clothes, blankets, mattresses, and hygiene kits for journalists in Gaza, focusing on female journalists and freelancers. Women journalists on the frontline have faced additional challenges, including a constant threat of violence, harassment, and intimidation

Killing of journalists must end

“Palestinian journalists have shown incredible courage and resilience in reporting the war in Gaza under unimaginable conditions,” IPI Executive Director Frane Maroević said. “This award honours that courage in documenting truth and keeping the world informed.”

“With this award, we also repeat our call for an immediate end to the killing of journalists in Gaza. We repeat our call on Israel to uphold its obligation to protect journalists and civilians in times of armed conflict. And we repeat our demand on Israeli authorities to transparently and credibly investigate all instances of the killing of journalists by its forces and hold those responsible to account.”

Maroević added that Israel must also ensure justice for the 2022 killing of Al Jazeera correspondent and IPI-IMS World Press Freedom Hero Shireen Abu Akleh. The continued impunity in that case casts a dark shadow over journalism in Palestine and the wider region.

The people of Gaza are enduring suffering on an inconceivable scale, including a man-made famine. It is impossible to overstate the importance of Gaza’s journalists’ work to expose the horrifying consequences of the way in which Israel is conducting its war there”, IMS Executive Director Jesper Højberg said. “Throughout the war, local journalists have provided their compatriots with vital, often life-saving information. And they have been the world’s eyes and ears on the ground, bearing the burden of reporting in the midst of incessant bombardment and unimaginable bereavement. With this award, we honour their courage, their insistence on not being silenced, and their efforts to keep on documenting the likely war crimes and other international crimes transpiring in Gaza”.

More information

The IPI-IMS World Press Freedom Hero award is given annually. The 2023 recipient was Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui. The award honoured her decades of fearless investigative reporting despite targeted efforts to silence her. Other past recipients include Anna Politkovskaya, Carlos Dada, Katherine Graham, Hrant Dink, Shireen Abu Akleh, and Lydia Cacho. See all past World Press Freedom Hero Award recipients

This year’s IPI Hero award recipients were selected by an international jury comprised of IPI; IMS; Owais Aslam Ali, secretary general, Pakistan Press Foundation; Anne Leppäjärvi, chair, IPI Finland National Committee; and José Zamora, chief communications and impact officer, Exile Content, and the son of imprisoned IPI-IMS World Press Freedom Hero José Rubén Zamora.