Reporters Without Borders accuses Israel and Hamas of war crimes, reports deaths of 34 journalists

A nonprofit organization that advocates for the freedom and independence of the press around the world has accused Israel and Hamas of war crimes committed against journalists in Palestine and Israel.

Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court on Tuesday, asking its prosecutors to investigate the death of eight Palestinian journalists killed by Israeli forces amid bombardments of civilian areas in Gaza, and of one Israeli journalist killed while covering an attack on his kibbutz by Hamas on Oct. 7.

The complaint details the cases of those nine journalists as well as two others, who were wounded while doing their work. It also cites “the deliberate, total or partial, destruction of the premises of more than 50 media outlets in Gaza.”

“These reporters were the victims of attacks amounting — at the very least — to war crimes justifying [an ICC] investigation,” the group said in a news release.

According to the RSF, 34 journalists have been killed since the start of the war. Twelve of them were killed while doing their job — 10 in Gaza, one in Israel and one in Lebanon.

“The scale, seriousness and recurring nature of international crimes targeting journalists, particularly in Gaza, calls for a priority investigation by the ICC prosecutor,” Christophe Deloire, RSF secretary-general, said in a statement Wednesday. “The current tragic events demonstrate the extreme urgency of the need for ICC action.”

According to the group, the attacks on Palestinian journalists in Gaza correspond to indiscriminate attacks, as defined by international humanitarian law “and therefore constitute war crimes under Article 8.2.b. of the Rome Statute,” the 1998 treaty that established the ICC.

Even if the killed journalists were the victims of attacks “aimed at legitimate military targets,” as claimed by Israeli authorities, those attacks caused “manifestly excessive and disproportionate harm to civilians, and still amount to a war crime under this article,” the RSF said.

The Israeli journalist’s death constituted the “willful killing” of a person protected by the Geneva Conventions, which is a war crime under article 8.2.a. of the Rome Statute.