Israel-Palestine war: 'Godfather' of Palestinian journalism Belal Jadallah killed in Israeli shelling
Israeli shelling has killed Belal Jadallah, one of the most respected journalists in Gaza, adding to the scores of reporters and media workers who have already died during the ongoing war.
Tributes poured in for Jadallah after an Israeli attack on Sunday, which cost him his life. Jadallah’s sister told Reuters that he was heading to the south from Gaza City, but was killed by an Israeli tank shell in the Zeitoun neighbourhood.
Known locally as “the godfather of Palestinian journalists”, Jadallah was the chairman of the Gaza Press House - an organisation dedicated to training the region's future journalists.
Established in 2014 in Gaza, it was aimed at enhancing freedom of expression through training, advocacy and networking programmes.
Most journalists in the besieged enclave knew Jadallah, and he had worked with many of them closely. His mentorship programmes helped many local journalists get started in their careers.
The death bring the number of journalists in the area killed since the start of the war on 7 October to 48, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The tally includes four Israeli reporters killed on 7 October during an assault on southern Israel by Hamas-led Palestinian fighters.
On Instagram, Motaz Azaiza, a Gaza-based journalist, said: “Without fail, every journalist I know in Gaza has said that he was like a father to them. Belal was known as a warm, compassionate listener. An encourager. A cultivator of dreams. A teacher. A coach. A guide.
“He made young Palestinian journalists believe in themselves. He made them stop thinking of themselves as people that 'want to be journalists' and helped them to see and believe that they ARE journalists,” he added.
Ali Jadallah, Belal's brother, said that he was determined to stay in Gaza City, believing he had a "moral duty to tell the world about what he was seeing".
"He spared no effort to support all freelance journalists, protecting them, arranging safety courses for them and providing them with protective gear," he added.
During the ongoing war, Jadallah worked hard to ensure the Press House offered support for journalists covering the bombardment of Gaza, including providing safety and technical equipment.
Jadallah had also hosted members of international delegations to show them violations against Palestinians in Gaza.
Tor Wennesland, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, called Jadallah a “professional, knowledgeable and passionate journalist who dedicated his life for the freedom of journalism & protection of journalists”.
Husam Zumlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, called his death “devastating” and called on “his killers to be brought to justice”.
Journalists have frequently been targeted since the start of the war.
Two freelance journalists, Hassouna Sleem and Sary Mansour, were also killed on Saturday in an Israeli assault on the Bureij refugee camp, in the centre of Gaza.
The ongoing war has seen more journalists killed in the first month of conflict than any other war since the CPJ first started collating statistics for journalists covering conflict in 1992.
Christophe Deloire, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general, has described the toll as “shocking”, with the number likely to rise.