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Writes Lovemore Chazingwa
The crumbling image of Amr Al-Daoudi, a now deceased Palestine TV correspondent, giving in to “exhaustion and famine” keeps haunting the mind while draining all the energy from any critically thinking journalist zeroing in on the monster of contemporary threats to their noble profession in the New World (dis)Order.
Such a cannibal way to depart Mother Earth by a diligent professional practitioner, a role model to many, spells doom for a profession fashioned to inform the world and tell truth to power.
Holding authority to account is no mean task, brushes abound. That’s another responsibility piled upon the shoulders of that profession, overtly known as The Fourth Estate in relation to the balance of power in nation-states.
The Fourth Estate hovers its mast monitoring the trichotomy that the executive, judiciary, and legislature is, with a de-facto seal of societal approval. Working in such a clime poses glaring dangers, coupled with incessant threats of all sorts, the worst of them on one’s life.
Al-Daoudi was no exception.
In the thick of things, he met his fate in combat, live on air, symbolically depicting the sharp stabbing knife turned several times deep in the tender flesh, inflicting gruesome pain on a whole profession.
There’s no comfort though, to learn that, he is not the only one to have suffered such a fate. His case makes for a classic example as he was reporting on a war that is ravaging his own country and, has broken records for all the wrong reasons.
The number of bombs used, air strikes launched, civilian infrastructure targeted, mass world heritage sites destruction, the injured and displaced populations, deprivation of basic needs, harrowing death statistics, and now, the galloping number of journalists losing lives is dwarfing records in many other infamous wars in history.
Centre for Protecting Journalists (CPJ), Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator, Sherif Mansour, said the military had “killed more journalists in 10 weeks than any other army or entity has in any single year,” a news article in The New Arab, Dec. 24, 2023 reports.
Statista.com sources show that the year 2012 recorded the highest number of journalists killed in a single year since 1995.
Political analyst, Mr. Rashweat Mukundu, gives a brazen insight into this global state of journalism concerning wars, vis-a-vis state power dynamics.
“I think what we’re seeing in Gaza, with the well over a hundred journalists killed, is the psycho-social pressure, tremor, and mental torture that journalists are having to face covering the very sad story of the people of Palestine.
It’s probably the darkest period for the media and journalism in the world. We’re in the 21st century in which we have so many international instruments that should protect the rights of journalists.
The international community has so much capacity to monitor rights abuses. The sad part is that all this is being ignored, hence, the shockingly high number and very arrogant acts of impunity that we’re seeing being committed by the government of Israel in Palestine.
Moreso, the targeting of journalists, is meant, of course, to undermine and restrict coverage of the sad events in Palestine. For me, this is setting a new standard for those political leaders engaged in conflict who will measure their treatment of the media against this benchmark.
It’s a very low and poor standard that threatens the rights of journalists, not only in Gaza but, throughout the whole world. What is happening in Gaza, in terms of the treatment of journalists, the killings, torture, arrests, and intimidation is the lowest ebb that the world has had to face in its treatment of the media.
The unfortunate part is that anyone who decides to harass journalists and, the media in general, will find justification in the silence, tolerance, and seemingly encouragement that the international community, especially Western powers, has given to Israel in its attacks and atrocities in Palestine.
Ironically, the same instruments journalists amplify, at times adding weight behind them, for the good of the world, are darting from supporting them in the hour of need.
Growing fears point to no imminent end in sight to the onslaught on Palestine by Israeli forces.
Israeli premier, Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu appeared on Al Jazeera news recently declaring that “Israel will not stop attacks on Palestine until it reaches its targets.”
In the heat of the warfare, Al-Daoudi joins a growing list of journalists who have lost their lives on duty under such heart-rending circumstances.
Exactly four months after it erupted on October 7, 2023, the current war in Gaza is threatening to breach the 147 threshold.
The narrative is unpalatable, that video image splattering a profession widely viewed as a paragon of information dissemination and the septic inaction by the powers that be, a source of anxious pessimism.