Journalists Under Fire: Mustafa al Sawaf, veteran Palestinian editor and analyst

By Humaira Ahad

As per a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a media advocacy group, Israeli war on Gaza has been the deadliest ever recorded for media professionals anywhere in the world.

Since the Tel Aviv regime launched its brutal bombardment of the Gaza Strip on October 7, Palestinian journalists have been the key targets, with some reports putting the toll at more than 100.

Evidence suggests that Israel has been deliberately targeting journalists in the besieged territory for laying bare horrendous war crimes committed by the regime forces against ordinary civilians.

One of the Palestinian journalists killed in the Israeli genocidal war on Gaza is Mustafa al Sawaf.

On November 18, an Israeli airstrike hit Al Sawaf’s home in Gaza’s Shawa Square, killing several of his family members, including his two sons Muntaser and Marwan, who also worked as journalists.

In an excerpt from an article written in 2022, published in the Palestinian daily Felesteen, Al Sawaf made a prophecy about the Israeli regime’s major war against Palestinians in Gaza.

“This will not be an easy battle, but rather a difficult war, in which the occupation will use all its power….I believe this will be the first decisive battle in which we, with the help of Allah, will emerge victorious,” the veteran journalist wrote in the newspaper he founded.

Al Sawaf was born in August 1955 in Gaza. After a Bachelor's in media studies and a Master's in Islam and Arabic language from Cairo, he started working for various media outlets in Palestine.

He worked as a Palestine correspondent for many international news organizations.

Al Sawaf also served as the manager of the Lebanon-based Al-Nahar newspaper. He founded the Arabic daily Falasteen. The newspaper now is the highest circulating daily in the blockaded coastal strip.

Al Sahaf worked as the newspaper’s editor-in-chief before starting his own media production house, the al Jeel Press.

In his long media career spanning more than three decades, Al Sawaf emerged as one of the most recognized faces on the media scene in Palestine.

He wrote hundreds of articles for local and international newspapers. The seasoned journalist would often appear on various television channels as a commentator to provide his input.

He was also affiliated with the Gaza-based resistance group Hamas. Al Sawaf contributed to establishing the media wing and center for research studies of the al Qassem brigades, the military wing of Hamas.

The veteran journalist is also credited for founding the Palestinian Journalists bloc in 1999.

Apart from his journalistic work, Al Sawaf also served in senior positions in the Ministry of Culture and Social Development in Gaza.

Since 1999, he has written extensively on Palestine and published several books including “Martyrs of the Days of Rage (2005), “There Was a Householder”(2017), and “Hamas from Memory”(2017).

Many journalists from the Palestinian media fraternity took to X, formerly Twitter, to offer their condolences on the death of the journalist who mentored many of them.

“Abu Muhammad was martyred with his wife and his children in a horrific Zionist attack. Dr Mustafa al Sahaf was our father in media. We learned from him when we started our career in media,” prominent Palestinian journalist and social media influencer, Adham Abu Selmiya, tweeted.

Many journalists have been killed with their families in Gaza in airstrikes targeting their homes.

“Reporters there have no safe refuge and no way of leaving. They are being killed one after another. Since 7 October, the Palestinian territory has been subjected to a veritable eradication of journalism,” said Dagher Jonathan, head of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), commenting on the dangerous situation facing journalists who are currently reporting from Gaza.

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