Genocide and Media:

Killing Journalism and Distorting the Narrative

Since the start of the Israeli genocidal war on Gaza in October 7, 2023, the media has been a tool used by the occupation to obscure and distort the truth in order to legitimize its crimes and violations, as well as to deny the Palestinian people’s right to existence and dehumanize in order to normalize their killing. 

These practices are not new to the occupation, which has always used the media and its various tools and strategies to justify its occupation of Palestine and deny its existence at the same time. This is happening at a time when most Western media outlets are biased towards the Israeli narrative, which has become evident repeatedly since the start of the current assault on Gaza.

In this article, the fifth of the dossier “The 2023 Israeli War: Fates of Residents and Confrontation Paths in Lebanon,” we address the problem of representation in the media. Through three sections, we first present a set of terms that accurately describe what is happening in Gaza. Then, we provide a timeline of journalists killed by Israel in Gaza and southern Lebanon. Finally, we translate into Arabic an email sent by BBC correspondent Rami Ruhayem to the BBC team, in which he deeply criticizes the media outlet’s coverage of events in Gaza and the West Bank, and how this coverage is reflected among its audience.

What is happening in Gaza / Palestine?

The use of accurate language plays a crucial role in understanding and describing the situation in occupied Palestine. Mainstream media, across the Western, Arab, and international spheres, often employs misleading terminology. This deliberate choice downplays the severity of the situation, obscuring it from public view. Political agendas drive this manipulation, often aiming to shield Israel, specific parties or states from accountability.

In light of this reality laden with injustice and deception, we at Public Works Studio recognize our responsibility to produce knowledge about what is currently happening in Gaza. We firmly believe that while words alone may not halt the ongoing genocide there, wielding accurate terminology becomes a vital weapon of resistance. For this reason, we have focused our efforts at this stage on producing a dictionary and publishing English terms, accompanied by explanations of their meanings and Arabic translations, which enhance the clarity of the Palestinian discourse and shed light on the events accurately. At the same time, we have linked the terms to our field of work (urban planning, space, environment, city, housing).

We call on everyone, individuals, groups, and institutions, to use these terms in describing what is happening, because the conscious and accurate use of language is not an intellectual luxury, but an urgent necessity to confront injustice.


This term has a dual implication: the physical extermination of groups of people sharing a common political identity on the one hand, and the political, not physical, extermination of people, i.e., the denial of any political agency they can have over themselves, on the other hand.

The concept of politicide was coined by American political scientists Barbara Harff and Ted Robert Gurr in 1988, referring to the physical “genocide” of groups of people sharing a common political identity, without necessarily having an ethnic or racial dimension. This happened to the Indonesian communists in 1965 and 1966 at the hands of the Suharto regime, supported by the US.

This concept later evolved with Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling, who used it in his book “Politicide: Ariel Sharon’s War Against the Palestinians” to describe Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians during Sharon’s government.

Some scholars considered this approach too narrow, arguing that Israel is fundamentally based on the politicide of the Palestinians, both before and after Sharon. Kimmerling’s interpretation of politicide is not the physical extermination of a population for political reasons, like the Indonesian Communists, but the political extermination of the population, denying any political agency over themselves. This entails the destruction of their political existence, denying the possibility of self-determination.

Today in Palestine, politicide is achieved by eliminating national and party leaders, assassinating political elites, hindering education, and systematically destroying public institutions, such as those of the Palestinian Authority. Some argue that the essence of Palestinian liberation today is to break free from the system of politicide and to enter the realm of politics, to reappropriate it.


Greenwashing is a political propaganda, marketing strategy and media representation discourse in which corporations and some governments, particularly settler colonial ones, try to improve their image and market their narrative by manipulating environmental values and creating an illusion of ecological responsibility to distract the public opinion’s attention away from their harmful practices and human rights abuses.

The term was coined in 1986 by American environmentalist Jay Westerveld. It originated when a beach resort in Samoa claimed environmental responsibility by offering reusable towels while expanding into common land used by local communities. Over time, the term has come to criticize businesses, corporations, and governments that use environmental claims for marketing without making substantive efforts to address the impact of their products on the environment. This practice exacerbates the climate crisis, disproportionately affecting indigenous peoples, the Global South, and oppressed communities, leading to social, spatial, and environmental injustices. This term comes to complement the marketing media practices of the occupation in addition to pink and purple washing, through which Zionist propaganda attempts to improve the image of the colonial entity by claiming its support for women and queers.

Israel, akin to other governments with a historical legacy of colonialism and imperialism endeavors, has played a significant role in exacerbating the ongoing climate crisis, all while employing greenwashing tactics to project a facade of environmental responsibility and divert attention from its entrenched practices of military occupation, settler-colonialism, apartheid, and ecocide in Palestine, southern Lebanon and Golan Heights. In reality, Israel not only pollutes Palestinian land but also systematically devastates the fauna and flora of Palestine, introduces invasive species, constructs “ecological preserves” to mask ethnically cleansed villages, and falsely represents its appropriation of Palestinian water as a solution to water scarcity, actively contributing to the problem.

Israel has built its narrative since the beginning, on the illusion of “greening the desert”. This claim has been refuted on two levels. The first lies within the documents proving that the first colonists learned from Palestinian farmers how to cultivate lands in different regions of Palestine, which means that these lands were essentially agricultural and that their people knew how to cultivate them. The second is that the concept of “greening the desert” is in itself opposed to environmental sustainability. The desert is not a dead land,and doesn’t need to become green. It is rather a rich ecosystem, of which the Bedouins and sedentary communities of the Levant have developed methods of land use and cultivation. This also shows that Israel’s approach to the environment is essentially a colonial approach, one which does not know the value of the ecological diversity of the region it colonizes, and considers its dry areas as waste land.

The ostensibly sustainable technologies championed under the guise of its green initiatives serve to undermine indigenous “collective continuance” on the land, solidifying Israeli control and hindering the Palestinians’ ability to exist in the future. Israeli companies like Mekorot and Netafim further exacerbate these issues by pilfering resources from Palestinians for illegal settlements, all the while greenwashing their activities by portraying themselves as providers of global sustainable solutions. Simultaneously, companies like Haifa Chemicals and Adama contribute to environmental destruction through the use of agrotoxics, perpetuating a cycle of exploitation and environmental degradation.


Memoricide, or the “killing of memory,” which refers to the intentional and systematic destruction of the history of a particular people, often to be replaced by the narrative and history of another.

The term originally emerged in 1992 in the context of the War of Independence in Croatia, where the deliberate shelling of Old Dubrovnik city epitomized the destruction of famous Croatian heritage monuments. However, the concept extends beyond the tangible and material aspects to encompass social, cultural, and discursive dimensions.In fact, Memoricide targets the cultural identity through the deliberate suppression of language, traditions, and customs. This is exemplified by toponymic alteration, including the renaming of places. It also extends to the linguistic dimension, involving efforts to suppress or replace the language spoken by the community, such as transliterating place names or outright renaming.

Memoricide is an aspect of settler colonialism and is in alliance with genocide. In the specific context of Palestine, Memoricide is closely tied to the Zionist project, characterized by the imposition of a Zionist narrative over everything that had been Palestinian. This process involves not only the destruction of physical sites and the targeting of Palestinian cultural and religious sites, but also the deletion of historic Palestine from maps, the planting of artificial forests over Palestinian village ruins, and the renaming of Palestinian toponyms into Biblical and Talmudic ones. The Zionists also used the discursive dimension of Memoricide in reinterpreting or distorting historical facts, and in controlling the media narratives allowing for the dissemination of specific perspectives.


Epistemicide is the killing, silencing, annihilation, or devaluing of a knowledge system. Epistemicide happens when epistemic injustices are persistent, systematic, and collectively work as a structured oppression of particular ways of knowing, such as organic, spiritual, and land-based systems.

The term “Epistemicide” was developed by the Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos. In the context of colonization, epistemicide manifests as violence against both humans and the creation, conservation, and transmission of the knowledge of native peoples. This involves the destruction of Indigenous spirituality and native languages, the disuse of certain productive or food processes, and the replacement of Indigenous forms of governance and natural resource tenure. Epistemic violence employs subtle and overt methods such as criminalization, lynching, and genocide.

In the case of Palestine, there exists a long history of Palestinian connection to the land, including through agricultural systems and a rich food culture, exemplified by the baʿlī farming systems: baʿlī planting, tillage, and plant protection methods enable crop growth without irrigation. These agroecological practices are both resilient and dynamic, offering valuable lessons for farmers. These practices were often overlooked by colonial powers. The Zionist project to “make the desert bloom” was, in part, based on damaging misunderstandings of Arab dryland wheat and baʿlī farming systems, leading to the erasure of Palestinians and dismissal of their traditional land stewardship.

Ethnic Cleansing

Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy and a number of resulting practices implemented by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas. To a large extent, it is carried out in the name of nationalism, historic grievances, and a powerful driving sense of revenge. This purpose appears to be the occupation of territory and control of resources, to the exclusion of the purged group or groups. Practices used to remove the civilian population can constitute crimes against humanity and can be assimilated to specific war crimes. Many of these acts of violence are carried out with extreme brutality and savagery in a manner designed to instill terror in the civilian population, in order to cause them to flee and never to return.

This description exactly mirrors what happened in Palestine over the history:

– The 1948 Nakba, when the Zionist state uprooted more than half of Palestine’s native population, over 750,000 people, destroyed 531 villages, and emptied 11 urban neighborhoods of their inhabitants.

– The 1967 Naksa which led to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the displacement of 350,000 Palestinians.

It is also repeating itself today, with more than two-thirds of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million having fled their homes since the 7th of October. In addition, Israeli occupation has killed more than 11,500 people and injured over 29,000 people.


Apartheid, is an Afrikaans word, derived from the French term “mettre à part,” literally translated to “separating, setting apart.” Usually, the separation operated by apartheid is exercised over geographical areas, restricting and confining one part of the population in an area separated from the others, and forbidding them to access some areas solely based on their belonging to a race or ethnicity.

It is a policy originally used in South Africa, and founded on prolonged and cruel explicitly enforced racial classification, racial segregation, economic discrimination, suppression, and denial of political and civil rights.
Apartheid was labeled a crime against humanity by the United Nations General Assembly as early as 1966.

In the 1990s, the term “Israeli apartheid” gained prominence after Israel, as a result of the Oslo Accords, granted the Palestinians limited self-government in the form of the Palestinian Authority and established a system of permits and checkpoints in the Palestinian Territories. The apartheid analogy gained additional traction after the Israel occupation constructed the West Bank Barrier.

Israeli apartheid is implemented through four main strategies: fragmentation into domains of control, dispossession of land and property, segregation and control, and deprivation of economic and social rights.



 is a term that describes the extensive and deliberate destruction of the environment, resulting in severe and long-term harm to the natural world. This destruction can take various forms, such as the devastation of ecosystems, the loss of biodiversity, or the contamination of vital resources. Ecocide is characterized by its potential to disrupt the delicate balance of nature, endangering not only the environment but also human populations that rely on it for their well-being and cultural preservation. Ecocide can threaten a people’s cultural and physical existence and has genocidal dimensions. Destruction of the natural environment can result in cultural genocide by preventing people from following their traditional or indigenous ways of life.

The idea of ecocide was first proposed in the 1970s during the Vietnam War when the US military used chemicals to destroy the foliage cover and crops. Since then, many rights organizations and lawyers have supported the criminalization of ecocide in international law. At present ecocide is only considered a war crime under Article 8(2)(b)(iv) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Advocates are proposing to the UN Law Commission to amend the Rome Statute to include ‘ecocide’ as a fifth crime against peace.

Settler Colonialism

SettlerColonialism is a coercive demographic and territorial system of oppression based on racism and white supremacy. It is directed towards the elimination and displacement of the native population, involving their dispossession, the appropriation of their lands, the exploitation of their resources, the repression of their rights, the eradication of their cultures and political aspirations, and their replacement with the settlers to establish themselves as the rightful inhabitants through the creation of settlements. Settler colonialism is rooted in the dehumanizing perception of indigenous people as “savage and violent,” which serves as a justification for the oppression and the assertion of control by the “civilized” settler state.


Etymologically rooted in the Latin terms domus (home) and caedo (to kill), domicide refers to the massive and deliberate destruction of homes directed against a civilian population with the intention of causing human death and suffering, in blatant violation of international law.

In October 2022, the UN’s independent housing rights expert called UN Member States to recognize Domicide as an international crime of its own standing, and to ban the use of bombing, rockets and explosives with wide-area effects in any populated areas.

His call was reiterated recently on 19 October 2023, when in a joint statement with other UN experts they condemned the “the wilful and systematic destruction of civilian homes and infrastructure” in Gaza by Israeli forces. And once more in a Statement before the General Assembly on the 20th of October 2023 when he insisted upon the need to identify and act upon domicide since: “Destroyed in these conflicts are not only homes. Destroyed are the savings of entire families, destroyed are memories, destroyed is the comfort of belonging, and the ever-receding hope of a right to return to their homes.”


Urbicide as a term literally translates to “city-killing.” The term has its roots in the Latin word “urbs,” meaning “city,” and “occido,” meaning “to massacre.” Urbicide is the deliberate murder of a city, premeditated and ordered. It involves the systematic and intentional destruction and organized violence against urban environments. Urbicide forms an important war tool, as it is a way to destroy collective memory, the lived space, and belonging, in addition to the direct killing of people.

Land Grabbing

LandGrabbing is a large-scale acquisition of land through the purchase or lease of significant tracts by domestic and transnational companies, governments, and powerful individuals. Other methods of appropriating someone else’s space and territory include colonization, occupation, annexation, and war, each based on distinct yet complementary arrangements, where one can lay the groundwork and create conditions for the application of another.

Spatial Erasure

SpatialErasure extends beyond the demolition of buildings to encompass the obliteration of individual and collective memories, along with the erasure of historical spatial narratives within the urban landscape. In this context, the erased physical environment serves as a lens through which to view social inequity, political aggression, and trauma.


SpacioCide is the process of targeting land to displace Palestinians from it, primarily by attacking the places where they reside and systematically destroying their public spaces and any sites representing their national identity. In Spacio-cide, the primary tools are not tanks, but bulldozers that demolish streets, houses, cars, and olive groves, or the policies, laws and practices that allow for Israeli individuals to move into an inhabited Palestinian house, as in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. This process also involves controlling water aquifers, bridges, and tunnels. The realization of the spacio-cidal project is made possible through a regime that implements three key principles: colonization, separation, and the state of exception.

War on Journalists: Ignoring International Law and Attempts to Control the Narrative

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As of February 17, 2024, the Israeli occupation has killed 133 journalists in Gaza and Lebanon since October 7, 2023.

Amidst the ongoing genocidal war, discussions about international laws safeguarding journalists appear ironic, as much as angering. Despite legal protections enshrined in international agreements, the Israeli occupation persists in targeting and killing journalists with impunity.

Journalists serve as vital witnesses to the atrocities committed against Palestinians, yet they are systematically silenced by the Israeli occupation. This suppression of media freedom underscores Israel’s efforts to control the narrative, manipulate public perception, and obscure its human rights violations.

However, amid Israeli attempts to control the media narrative of the war, and some governments’ silence and complicity, recognizing the presence of the Palestinian narrative and its transformation among many individuals online and on social media remains crucial. Israel’s attempts to control the media narrative continue to fail, although it does not directly translate into protection for civilians, including journalists, today.

Turmoil at the BBC: “Gravest Possible Concerns” at Its Gaza Coverage

The violence in Palestine, perpetrated by Israel with increasing ferocity since Hamas attacks on Israeli targets on 7 October 2023, has been accompanied by an equally fierce war of narratives in Western media, powered on one side by government mouthpieces and mainstream outlets, and on the other by the transnational networks of social media, amplifying the voices and testimonies of Palestinians on the ground.

Most recently, the BBC has also confronted detailed and outraged criticism from its own members of staff. On 25 October 2023, the British newspaper The Times published an article entitled “BBC Staff Crying at Work Over Israel-Gaza Coverage” which led with accusations leveled at the BBC “by its journalists of being too lenient on Israel and ‘dehumanizing’ Palestinian civilians, allegedly leaving staff crying in lavatories and taking time off work.” The article quoted extensively from an email that was sent on 24 October by a BBC correspondent based in Beirut, Rami Ruhayem, to the Director General of the BBC, Tim Davie, voicing ‘the gravest possible concerns’ about BBC coverage of unfolding events in Gaza. We have obtained the full text of that email and share it to clarify all the points it makes.

Spatial Practices and Mobilizations Lebanon Palestine