Palestinian journalist Hani al-Shaer (C) uses a mobile phone to broadcast live in Rafah on the southern Gaza Strip on December 27, 2023. AFP

UNESCO awards press prize to Palestinian journalists in Gaza, sends message of ‘solidarity’

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO director general, said the prize paid “tribute to the courage of journalists facing difficult and dangerous circumstances”.

PARIS – UNESCO on Thursday awarded its world press freedom prize to all Palestinian journalists covering the war in Gaza, where Israel has been battling Hamas for more than six months and where scores of reporters have been killed.

“In these times of darkness and hopelessness, we wish to share a strong message of solidarity and recognition to those Palestinian journalists who are covering this crisis in such dramatic circumstances,” said Mauricio Weibel, chairman of the international jury of media professionals.

“As humanity, we have a huge debt to their courage and commitment to freedom of expression.”

Audrey Azoulay, director general at the UN organisation for education, science and culture, said the prize paid “tribute to the courage of journalists facing difficult and dangerous circumstances”.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 97 members of the press have been killed since the war broke out in October, 92 of whom were Palestinians.

UN rights experts voiced alarm at soaring numbers of journalists killed in the Gaza war, decrying an apparent “deliberate” Israeli strategy to silence critical reporting.

“Rarely have journalists paid such a heavy price for just doing their job as those in Gaza now,” the five experts said in a statement.

United Nations reports indicate that at least 122 journalists and other media workers have been killed and many others injured in the Gaza Strip since war erupted there following the deadly Hamas attacks inside Israel on October 7.

“We are alarmed at the extraordinarily high numbers of journalists and media workers who have been killed, attacked, injured and detained in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in Gaza, in recent months,” the experts said.

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