Belal Jadallah, A Giant In Palestinian Journalism, Killed In Israeli Bombing In Gaza

A Gaza journalist regarded as a giant in the Palestinian media industry was killed Sunday by Israeli bombing, the latest in a growing series of journalist deaths in the region.

Belal Jadallah was killed by an airstrike that hit his car in Gaza City, which has been under sustained attack by Israel since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants killed hundreds of Israelis in a series of surprise attacks. Jadallah’s death was reported by the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, Al Qahera News and Cairo-based Youm7 and confirmed by members of his family.

Jadallah was the director of Press House-Palestine, a nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom, provides legal protection for media workers and helps support and train Palestinian journalists. On Sunday, the organization said it “mourns its Director General Belal Jadallah who was martyred in [an] Israeli bombing of Gaza City.”

“He spared no efforts to protect [journalists], arranging all of them safety courses, providing them with protective gear, and securing financial assistance for those facing difficult economic situations,” Jadallah’s brother, photojournalist Ali Jadallah, said. “As his youngest brother, Belal was the first person I would resort to, to relieve my pain. He is the man who would be always with me on thick and thin.”

Gaza journalist Plestia Alaqad, who has gained a massive following on Instagram for her regular updates on the ground, posted that Belal Jadallah “means a lot to me on a professional and personal level,” and said she would always go to him for advice when she was offered a job.

“Belal was the first person who helped me in the journalism industry in Gaza and for that I’ll always be grateful,” she wrote. “I was waiting for this to end to go to Press House and show him all my work and everything I did as I’m sure he’ll be proud of me ... May your soul Rest In Peace Belal.”

According to Ali Jadallah, Belal Jadallah and his brother-in-law Abdulkareem Abed were heading south to join the rest of their family when they were hit. Abed’s “fate is still unknown,” Ali Jadallah said.

“Belal was very determined to stay in Gaza City for over a month and strongly believed it was his moral duty to tell the world what he witnesses in the besieged small city, assisting the needy people around him amid this humanitarian catastrophe,” the photojournalist wrote in a statement posted to his Instagram Stories on Sunday.

“I am not able to attend your burial or kiss your forehead as we are not allowed to move northward,” he continued. “Despite all this agony I am going through, I still console myself with what you told us this early morning: ‘I finally made my mind to come to the south and stay with you. I am comfortable as I saw in my dream last night that I was performing Hajj in Mecca.’ I am sure you are dwelling in paradise my dear brother!”

Jadallah’s death also prompted tributes from leaders outside of Gaza, including European diplomats, humanitarians and members of press freedom nonprofits.

Tor Wennesland, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said he was “shocked & saddened” after hearing about the death of Jadallah, whom he described as a “knowledgeable & passionate journalist” who “dedicated his life for the freedom of journalism & protection of journalists.”

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Saturday was the second-deadliest day for journalists in the region since Oct. 7. Quds News Network director Sari Mansour, freelance photojournalist Hassouneh Salim, MSDR News analyst Mostafa El Sawaf and Al-Aqsa TV staffer Amro Salah Abu Hayah were all killed Saturday. Freelance photographer Mossab Ashour was reportedly killed in an earlier attack, but his death was not reported until Saturday when his body was discovered.

The deadliest day thus far was Oct. 7 itself, when six journalists were killed.

As of Monday, CPJ reports that at least 48 journalists and media workers in the region have been confirmed dead ― 43 Palestinians, four Israelis and one Lebanese. Nine journalists are reported injured, three are reported missing and at least 13 have been arrested. Journalists are also facing cyberattacks and threats of censorship, and some are mourning family members who were killed in the violence.

“Journalists across the region are making great sacrifices to cover this heartbreaking conflict,” Sherif Mansour, program coordinator for CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa chapter, said in a statement.

“Those in Gaza, in particular, have paid, and continue to pay, an unprecedented toll and face exponential threats,” Mansour said. “Many have lost colleagues, families and media facilities, and have fled seeking safety when there is no safe haven or exit.”