RSF files second war crimes complaint with ICC over Gaza journalists killed

Latest complaint by Paris-based press freedom group asks the court in the Hague to probe the deaths of seven Palestinian journalists.

Colleagues and family members pray over the body of Al Jazeera cameraman Samer Abudaqa
Colleagues and family members pray at the funeral of Al Jazeera cameraman Samer Abudaqa in Khan Younis, Gaza [File: Mahmud Hams/AFP]

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has filed its second complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes committed by the Israeli army against Palestinian journalists in Gaza.

The latest complaint by the Paris-based press freedom group filed on Friday asks the court in the Hague to investigate the deaths of seven Palestinian journalists killed in the besieged enclave from October 22 to December 15.

The list of journalists includes last week’s killing of Al Jazeera Arabic cameraman, Samer Abudaqa.

“RSF has reasonable grounds to believe that the journalists named in this complaint were the victims of attacks amounting to war crimes,” a statement issued by the group said.

“According to the information collected by RSF, these journalists may have been deliberately targeted as journalists. It is for this reason that RSF is describing these deaths as intentional homicides of civilians.”

The RSF filed its first ICC complaint since the war began on October 31 over the death of seven other journalists. The group says it has confirmed the deaths of 66 Palestinian journalists since October 7 when the Israeli assault began. More than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed since.

The other journalists named in the RSF complaint are Asem Al-Barsh, a radio journalist for Al Najah who was killed by sniper fire, and his colleague Bilal Jadallah of the Palestinian Press House, who fell victim to a direct missile attack on his car.

Montaser Al-Sawaf, a cameraman for the Turkish Anadolu Agency, and photojournalist Rushdi Al Siraj were also killed in Israeli air raids on their homes.

Hassouna Salim of the Quds News agency was killed by a missile after receiving death threats, and photojournalist Sari Mansour died in the same attack, according to RSF.

Al Jazeera’s Abudaqa “appears to have been killed by a precision shot fired from a drone”, the RSF said.

The incident, which the Al Jazeera Media Network has also decided to refer to the ICC, took place on December 15, when Abudaqa and Al Jazeera correspondent Wael Dahdouh were reporting on the bombing of a school used as a shelter for displaced people in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Dahdouh – who lost his wife, son, daughter and grandson in a previous Israeli bombing – was wounded in the attack but managed to reach a hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries.

Rescue teams were unable to immediately reach Abudaqa and others at the site as they needed approval from Israeli forces to bulldoze through the debris to get to the location.

By the time first responders arrived five hours later, the journalist had bled to death.

The RSF said it also supported the complaint filed by Al Jazeera Media Network about the fatal shooting of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin in the north of the Occupied West Bank on May 11, 2022.

Targeting journalists is a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute.

“In view of the massacre of journalists in Gaza and the targeting to which they seem to be subjected, we call on ICC prosecutor Karim Khan to clearly state that he is making it a priority to elucidate the crimes committed against journalists in Gaza and to prosecute those responsible,” RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in the statement.

Source: Al Jazeera