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Stockholm: Skyline International  is joining forces with prominent press freedom groups and human rights organizations in calling on President Joe Biden to escalate efforts in ensuring Israel's compliance with international law and accountability for the reported targeting of journalists in the ongoing Gaza conflict.

In a strongly worded letter addressed to President Biden, Skyline International, alongside the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, and other esteemed organizations, highlights the alarming increase in the number of media workers losing their lives in the conflict since the Hamas attack on October 7. The letter emphasizes that such casualties exceed those in any single country over an entire year.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has documented at least 79 journalist deaths, predominantly Palestinians, with the majority attributed to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The letter refutes recent claims by a US State Department spokesperson, stating, "the United States has not seen any evidence that Israel is intentionally targeting journalists."

Citing "credible reports" from human rights and media organizations, the letter outlines instances where the Israeli military is allegedly responsible for journalist deaths, including the deliberate targeting of a car carrying journalists on January 7. The IDF initially claimed to be targeting a "terrorist" using a camera drone, but later backtracked, suggesting the journalist appeared as a threat due to using a common tool for media organizations.

Expressing concern over threats received by journalists from Israeli officials and IDF officers before their family members were killed in Gaza, the letter underscores that deliberate or reckless killings of journalists constitute war crimes. It also notes the International Criminal Court's commitment to investigating reports of war crimes in Gaza.

Skyline International draws attention to a "longstanding pattern of impunity" in the killings of journalists by the IDF, citing the shooting death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, a US citizen, last year. Israeli authorities initially falsely attributed her death to Palestinians but later acknowledged it was "highly probable" she was killed by the IDF during a non-existent gun battle.

Urging President Biden to leverage the US's strong support for Israel, the letter emphasizes the importance of holding all parties to the conflict accountable under international humanitarian law. Skyline International underscores the critical role of journalists as civilians and their indispensable function in documenting and reporting on war crimes and human rights violations.

Skyline International calls on the Biden administration to intensify efforts to pursue accountability for journalists killed in the conflict and to safeguard and support local and international journalists covering it. Specifically, the letter urges President Biden to denounce the indiscriminate and deliberate killing of journalists, investigate attacks promptly and thoroughly, and hold individuals responsible for such attacks accountable.

In addition, Skyline International requests President Biden to exert pressure on Israel to allow journalists to enter Gaza and report freely on the war, emphasizing months of foreign reporters being blocked from the Palestinian territory. Despite Israel's claim of having a free press, the letter notes instances of censorship, including restrictions on reporting legitimate matters of public concern, and government threats against Haaretz, the country's oldest newspaper, for its coverage of the war. There were also threats to shut down local bureau offices of foreign news agencies.

Skyline International stands firm in its commitment to press freedom and urges President Biden to take decisive action to address the serious concerns raised by press freedom groups and human rights organizations.