LAYING DOWN THEIR LIVES FOR THE TRUTH.

AuthorBoddiger, David

There is a shaky cellphone video that's haunted me since the day I first saw it. It shows the horrifying aftermath of the cold-blooded killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who died in early May while covering an Israeli army operation in the West Bank town of Jenin for Al Jazeera.

What stands out to me most from the footage of that horrific assault--which multiple journalistic investigations and the UN. Human Rights Office have determined was likely carried out by members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)--is Abu Akleh's colleague, Shatha Hanaysha, who is frozen in terror as she is pinned down by gunfire beneath a small tree, just a few feet from Abu Akleh's lifeless body. I'll never forget Hanaysha's expressions of trauma, grief, and panic during those devastating moments of abject violence.

The circumstances of Abu Akleh's killing--she and her colleagues were wearing clothing clearly identifying them as press, and they had alerted Israeli officials of their presence--reveal a disturbing pattern of brazenness by her killers that has become increasingly common, not only in the West Bank, but around the world. The number of journalists killed and disappeared globally is troubling, and while the circumstances of each crime vary, one word is consistently repeated in discussions about the trend: impunity.

In the first half of this year, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had already documented forty-two journalists killed globally, with the motive confirmed in twenty-four cases. At least sixty-five journalists remained missing during the same period. As of June, that number is approaching the total number of journalist killings that were documented in all of 2021--forty-five, with twenty-eight cases in which the CPJ confirmed the motive.

"What the numbers... tell me, as well as what I see on a daily basis in terms of the level of harassment both online and off that journalists face, is that the environment for journalists is extremely dangerous," CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg tells The Progressive.

The largest number comes from Ukraine, where, as of June, fifteen journalists had been killed. Most of these deaths were attributed to Russian forces following that country's invasion of Ukraine, on February 24. Among them is French cameraman Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff, who was killed in late May while riding in a nonmilitary humanitarian caravan marked "humanitarian aid." His vehicle was reportedly shelled by Russian...

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