KARACHI: Palestinian journalists covering the war in Gaza have been awarded the 2024 World Press Freedom Hero award.

The award has been given to a group of journalists for the first time, according to a statement released by the awarding body.

The list included Al Jazeera Arabic’s Gaza bureau chief, Wael Dahdouh, whose wife, son, daughter and grandson were killed in an Israeli airstrike in October 2023.

The award also paid tribute to Bilal Jadallah, often referred to as the “father figure” of journalism in Gaza. He, too, was killed by Israeli shelling in November 2023.

The award, jointly presented by the International Press Institute (IPI) and International Media Support (IMS), “recognises 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 2023, Israel has barred foreign journalists from entering Gaza, and 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 statement added that at least 105 journalists and media workers have been killed in the region since the start of the war eight months ago. Of these, the vast majority were Palestinian journalists “killed by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza”.

This number of casualties was “far more than in any modern war or conflict in this span of time on record”.

The award will be presented at a special ceremony at the IPI World Congress and Media Innovation Festival in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on May 23.

“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,” IPI Executive Director Frane Maroević said.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2024

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