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Journalist in the Gaza war: This is how media people work – News


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Israel does not allow journalists into the Gaza Strip. So who reports on the war there? And how independent?

What is it about? Over a hundred journalists have been killed in the war between Israel and Hamas so far: This is reported by the organization Reporters Without Borders. They include a dozen women and four Israeli journalists who were killed while reporting on the Hamas attack on October 7th. 90 percent of the journalists killed are Palestinian. So only locals report from the front. One of them is 51-year-old Safwat Kahlout.

Who is Safwat Kahlout? The journalist is 51, grew up in the Gaza Strip, is married and has seven children. Over the past 18 years he has witnessed and reported on every war in the Gaza Strip – for Italian and English-language media. He is signed to Al Jazeera as a journalist and TV producer. A few weeks ago he managed to leave the Gaza Strip with Italian help.

Communications broke down, satellite dishes were destroyed, our cameraman was killed.

How do media people work in Gaza? “In the Gaza Strip you can’t work like other journalists: you’re constantly in emergency mode, you always have to have a plan B, C, D,” says Khalout. Nobody was prepared for such a violent and long war. For the first time, the Israeli army also ordered journalists to leave Gaza City and flee south with everyone else. “We broadcast from tents for months,” says the reporter from Gaza. And so he reported what he saw.

How does this work without electricity, water and internet? Electricity was sometimes provided by solar panels or hospitals as long as they still had fuel for generators. He had internet access thanks to SIM cards for Israel and Egypt. But Khalout also had to wait in line for hours for water, food and toilets. Added to this was the constant flight from the bombs: “Communication broke down, satellite dishes were destroyed, our cameraman was killed.”

Hamas wasn’t happy about my criticism – but in this war we’re all in the same boat.

How do we deal with so many journalists killed? On average, one journalist died every two days. According to Reporters Without Borders, most of them died in the bombing. More than 20 of them were deliberately killed during work assignments or in their homes. “There was no escape route, no safe hiding place in the entire Gaza Strip – each of us was potentially a target,” said Khalout.

Safwat Khalout in casual clothes in Italy.

Legend:

Safwat Khalout was able to leave the Gaza Strip with his family. Now he is in northern Italy, here visiting Lugano.

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What does he say about Hamas? Years ago, the journalist did not hold back from criticizing Hamas: “Hamas was not happy about my criticism of them.” But he did not agree with their ideology and the violence with which they fought for the freedom of the Palestinians. “But in this war we are all in the same boat – suffering the same things with our families. And in that sense they are also my brothers and cousins.”

How did he get to Italy? The few who are lucky enough to be able to leave the Gaza Strip must have permission from Israel to do so. The journalist Safwat Kahlout received one. So he was able to travel to Italy with his wife, mother and children. They can stay there for three months, then Kahlout has to keep looking. Actually, he only wants one thing: for the war to end and for him to be able to return to Gaza, his home.

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