With 99 killings, 2023 was the deadliest year for journalists in almost a decade, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Thursday. Of these, 77 were killed while reporting on Israel’s war on Gaza.

Killings of journalists globally would have dropped year-on-year had it not been for the deaths in Gaza, Israel and Lebanon, the global media watchdog said in its annual report. “In December 2023, CPJ reported that more journalists were killed in the first three months of the Israel-Gaza war than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year,” the organisation said.

The report documents 77 journalists killed in Israel’s war on Gaza. While 72 of them were Palestinians, three were Lebanese and two Israelis.

“Journalists in Gaza are bearing witness on the frontlines,” Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told Al Jazeera. “The immense loss suffered by Palestinian journalists in this war will have long-term impacts for journalism not just in the Palestinian territories but for the region and beyond. Every journalist killed is a further blow to our understanding of the world.”

As of Thursday, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ preliminary investigations showed that the number of journalists and media workers who had died in the Gaza war had risen to 88. However, the organisation said it would include them in its database only after it completes an investigation into the circumstances of their deaths.

The New York-based organisation, which advocates for press freedom, has previously condemned the “persecution” of journalists by Israeli forces. It is also investigating whether a dozen journalists killed in Gaza were deliberately targeted by Israeli soldiers, which would constitute “a war crime”, AFP reported.

The war, which started after Hamas’ incursion into southern Israel, has continued for more than four months. Hamas had killed 1,200 people in the attack and taken more than 200 persons hostage. Some of them were released in November as part of a brief ceasefire agreement in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel and humanitarian aid. Some of the hostages taken by Hamas were killed during the conflict.

Over 28,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 67,000 have been injured in Israel’s relentless air and ground strikes in Gaza, resulting in a humanitarian crisis in the territory. Nearly 85% of the population has been displaced, aid agencies have said.

In January, the International Court of Justice ruled that Israel must take immediate steps to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza.