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February 28, 2024updated 01 Mar 2024 10:44am

‘Let us into Gaza’: 55 UK and US foreign reporters urge Israel and Egypt to lift news blockade

With 90 journalists killed, it is vital that local media workers are relieved - letter says.

By Charlotte Tobitt

More than 55 foreign correspondents have issued a plea for access to Gaza through Israel and Egypt, saying it would help them bolster the efforts of local journalists whose safety is at risk.

Update on 1 March: A second open letter has been published with signatures from leaders at more than 30 international news organisations affirming solidarity with journalists in Gaza. Scroll down for that letter.

The 55 correspondents represent all the main broadcasters with bases in the UK including BBC News, Sky News, ITV News, Channel 4 News, CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC.

Scroll down for the full letter and list of signatories

They collectively signed an open letter sent on 28 February both to the Israeli and Egyptian embassies in London urging “free and unfettered access to Gaza for all foreign media”.

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They added that it is “vital that local journalists’ safety is respected and that their efforts are bolstered by the journalism of members of the international media” and noted that their media organisations have decades of experience in dealing with the risks of conflict reporting.

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Sky News special correspondent Alex Crawford said that like many other journalists, she and her crew have “spent the bulk of the past nearly five months busting a gut to get into Gaza” but they had never managed to get past the Rafah border crossing from Egypt.

In an article for Sky News she highlighted the fact that around 90 journalists are believed to have been killed since the war began on 7 October – 20 killed per month or one every other day. “Can you take that in? Because I am finding that hard to.”

She said that usually media organisations usually rotate staff in and out of a warzone “to allow for recharging, recovering and allowing fresh eyes and minds on events which are physically and mentally exhausting and debilitating” but local journalists in Gaza have been stuck inside and only a few have been able to leave.

CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward, who has signed the letter, is believed to have been the only journalist who had not been residing in Gaza who has been able to gain access without being embedded with the IDF since 7 October, after travelling with a UAE medical team.

Ward said the trip “provided a window into the war zone, but only a small one”.

Crawford wrote that embedding with the IDF “offers only limited insight” as the army “chooses the route, area to head to, how long you are in situ and basically what the journalist gets access to and who they talk to or if they can talk to anyone at all”. Journalists on these trips have not been able to talk to any Palestinians.

The journalists’ full Gaza access letter says:

“Almost five months into the war in Gaza, foreign reporters are still being denied access to the territory, outside of the rare and escorted trips with the Israeli military.

“We urge the Governments of Israel and Egypt to allow free and unfettered access to Gaza for all foreign media. We call on the government of Israel to openly state its permission for international journalists to operate in Gaza and for the Egyptian authorities to allow international journalists access to the Rafah Crossing.

“There is intense global interest in the events in Gaza and for now the only reporting has come from journalists who were already based there.

“It’s vital that local journalists’ safety is respected and that their efforts are bolstered by the journalism of members of the international media. The need for comprehensive on the ground reporting of the conflict is imperative.

“The risks of conflict reporting are well understood by our organisations who have decades of experience of reporting in warzones around the world and in previous wars in Gaza.”

Full list of journalist signatories:

  1. Alex Crawford, Sky News
  2. Alex Rossi, Sky News
  3. Alex Thomson, Channel 4
  4. Alistair Bunkall, Sky News
  5. Anna Botting, Sky News
  6. Charlie D’Agata, CBS
  7. Chris Livesay, CBS
  8. Christiane Amanpour, CNN
  9. Clarissa Ward, CNN
  10. Clive Myrie, BBC
  11. Cordelia Lynch, Sky News
  12. Debora Patta, CBS
  13. Deborah Haynes, Sky News
  14. Diana Magnay, Sky News
  15. Dominic Waghorn, Sky News
  16. Emma Murphy, ITN
  17. Fergal Keane, BBC
  18. Fiona Bruce, BBC
  19. Hala Gorani, NBC
  20. Holly Williams, CBS
  21. Ian Lee, CBS
  22. Ian Pannell, ABC
  23. Imtiaz Tyab, CBS
  24. James Longman, ABC
  25. Jeremy Bowen, BBC
  26. John Irvine, ITN
  27. John Ray, ITN
  28. John Sparks, Sky News
  29. Julie Etchingham, ITN
  30. Katya Adler, BBC
  31. Kirsty Wark, BBC
  32. Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Channel 4 
  33. Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4
  34. Lyse Doucet, BBC
  35. Mark Stone, Sky News
  36. Martha Kearney, BBC
  37. Matt Frei, Channel 4
  38. Mishal Husain, BBC
  39. Molly Hunter, NBC
  40. Nawal al-Maghafi, BBC
  41. Nick Robinson, BBC
  42. Orla Guerin, BBC
  43. Paraic O’Brien, Channel 4
  44. Quentin Sommerville, BBC
  45. Ramy Inocencio, CBS
  46. Reeta Chakrabarti, BBC
  47. Richard Engel, NBC
  48. Rohit Kachroo, ITN
  49. Sarah Montague, BBC
  50. Secunder Kermani, Channel 4
  51. Stuart Ramsay, Sky News
  52. Tom Bateman, BBC
  53. Tom Bradby, ITN
  54. Yalda Hakim, Sky News
  55. Yousra Elbagir, Sky News

Open letter from news organisations sharing solidarity

Days after the letter from foreign correspondents was sent to the embassies, an open letter co-ordinated by the Committee to Protect Journalists was published with signatures from leaders at more than 30 news organisations.

They said they stand united with journalists reporting from Gaza and called for anyone targeting them to be held accountable.

The full letter said:

“We, the undersigned, stand united with Palestinian journalists in their call for safety, protection, and the freedom to report.

“For nearly five months, journalists and media workers in Gaza – overwhelmingly, the sole source of on-the-ground reporting from within the Palestinian territory – have been working in unprecedented conditions: at least 89 have been killed in the war, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more journalists than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year.

“These journalists – on whom the international news media and the international community rely for information about the situation inside Gaza – continue to report despite grave personal risk. They continue despite the loss of family, friends, and colleagues, the destruction of homes and offices, constant displacement, communications blackouts, and shortages of food and fuel.

“Journalists are civilians and Israeli authorities must protect journalists as noncombatants according to international law. Those responsible for any violations of that longstanding protection should be held accountable. Attacks on journalists are also attacks on truth. We commit to championing the safety of journalists in Gaza, which is fundamental for the protection of press freedom everywhere.”

Full list of news leader signatories:

  1. Kim Godwin, President, ABC NEWS
  2. Phil Chetwynd, Global News Director, Agence France-Presse
  3. Hossam Kanafani, Editor in Chief, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed
  4. Shiro Nakamura, President, The Asahi Shimbun, Japan
  5. Julie Pace, Executive Editor, Associated Press
  6. Simon Spanswick, Chief Executive, Association for International Broadcasters
  7. Deborah Turness, CEO, BBC News
  8. Mark Thompson, Chairman and CEO, CNN Worldwide
  9. Daoud Kuttab, Director General, Community Media Network, Jordan
  10. Branko Brkic, Editor in Chief, Daily Maverick, South Africa
  11. Alia Ibrahim, Co-founder / CEO, Daraj, Lebanon
  12. Roula Khalaf, Editor, Financial Times
  13. Katharine Viner, Editor in Chief, The Guardian
  14. Aluf Benn, Editor in Chief, Haaretz
  15. Geordie Grieg, Editor in Chief, The Independent
  16. Sandy Prieto-Romualdez, Chairperson, Inquirer Group of Companies, The Philippines
  17. Deirdre Veldon, Managing Director, former Deputy Editor, The Irish Times, Ireland
  18. Rachel Corp, Chief Executive, ITN UK
  19. Andrew Dagnell, Editor, ITV News UK
  20. Terry Tang, Interim Executive Editor, Los Angeles Times
  21. Rameeza Nizami, Managing Director, Nawaiwaqt Group, Pakistan
  22. Pamella Sittoni, Group Managing Editor, Nation Media Group, Kenya
  23. Rebecca Blumenstein, President, Editorial, NBC News
  24. David Remnick, Editor, The New Yorker
  25. AG Sulzberger, Publisher, The New York Times
  26. Martha Ramos, President, World Editors Forum / Chief Editorial Officer, Organización
    Editorial Mexicana, Mexico
  27. Hans Väre, Editor in Chief, Postimees Grupp, Estonia
  28. Alan Rusbridger, Editor, Prospect magazine, UK
  29. Ritu Kapur, CEO, The Quint, India
  30. Maria Ressa, CEO and Co-Founder, Rappler Inc.
  31. Alessandra Galloni, Editor in Chief, Reuters
  32. Nwabisa Makunga, Editor in Chief, The Sowetan, South Africa
  33. Dirk Kurbjuweit, Editor in Chief, Der Spiegel
  34. Wolfgang Krach, Editor in Chief, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany
  35. Sally Buzbee, Executive Editor, The Washington Post
  36. Vincent Peyrègne, CEO, World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)

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