Photo Credit: Global Diaspora News (www.GlobalDiasporaNews.com).

Since the Israel-Gaza war began on October 7, journalists and media across the region have faced a hostile environment that has made reporting on the war exceptionally challenging.  

In addition to documenting the growing tally of journalists killed and injured, CPJ’s research to date has found multiple kinds of incidents of journalists being targeted while carrying out their work in Israel and the two Palestinian territories, Gaza and the West Bank. These include 19 arrests, as well as numerous assaults, threats, cyberattacks, and censorship.

(Editor’s note: These numbers are being updated regularly as more information becomes available. This text has been updated to separately document the number of arrests.)

Several journalists have also lost family members while covering the war.

On November 13, eight family members of photojournalist Yasser Qudih were killed when their house in southern Gaza was struck by four missiles, according to Reuters news agency and The Guardian. The incident occurred five days after a November 8 report by HonestReporting—a group that monitors what it describes “ideological prejudice” in media coverage of Israel—raised questions about Qudih and three other Gaza-based photographers having prior knowledge of Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel. Major media outlets, including Reuters, rejected the claims. HonestReporting subsequently withdrew the accusations, but its report prompted the Israeli prime minister’s office to tweet that the photographers were accomplices in “crimes against humanity” and Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz to say they should be treated as terrorists. Qudih survived the attack.

On October 25, Wael Al Dahdouh, Al-Jazeera’s bureau chief for Gaza, lost his wife, son, daughter, and grandson when an Israel airstrike hit the Nuseirat refugee camp in the center of Gaza, according to a statement from Al-Jazeera and Politico.

In Gaza, the risks are acute. Israel responded to Hamas’ surprise attack with airstrikes and a ground assault into the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the militant Palestinian group.

CPJ is investigating reports that dozens of media offices in Gaza were damaged, leaving many journalists with no safe place to do their jobs, as they also contend with extensive power and communications outages, food and water shortages, and sometimes have to flee with their families.

In both Gaza and Israel, journalists reporting on the war have indicated they lack personal protective equipment (PPE). CPJ has received multiple requests from freelance journalists seeking PPE, but delivering this equipment to journalists in the region is difficult. CPJ currently recommends journalists consult CPJ’s PPE guide to source their own equipment.

“Journalists in Gaza are facing exponential risk,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “But their colleagues in the West Bank and Israel are also facing unprecedented threats, assaults, and intimidation to obstruct their vital work covering this conflict.”

Journalists from outlets including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, RT Arabic, and Al-Araby TV have reported obstructions to their reporting by the Israeli police, military, and others since the war began. Some of those incidents include:

Assaults

On November 26, several journalists reported being assaulted by Israeli forces while waiting in front of Ofer prison, located between Ramallah and Beituniya, to cover Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners as part of the Hamas-Israel truce and prisoner exchange agreement, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS), the London-based news website The New Arab, and Al Araby TV. 

Journalists from Sky News Arabia, Firas Lutfi, and Raed El-Helw, who were previously assaulted on October 7, informed PJS that Israeli forces targeted them with tear gas and unidentified bullets while reporting from what they thought was a safe area, away from clashes in front of Ofer prison. They were wearing their media vests and informed the Israeli soldiers that they were members of the media. As a result of this attack, El-Helw was injured in his hand while trying to retrieve his camera and leave the area. El-Helw stated that it was a deliberate sniper attack on him and that he observed a laser light on his hand right before he was targeted. PJS shared footage of interviews with Lutfi and El-Helw, along with another video documenting El-Helw’s injury. PJS added that the crews of TRT and Roya News were present during the attack on the journalists.

In a separate November 26 incident near Ofer prison, Al-Araby TV reporter Fadi Al-Assa, an Al-Araby cameraman and another reporter were also targeted with tear gas canisters and rubber bullets from their position on rooftops in the vicinity of the prison. Al-Assa told The New Arab that an IDF drone flew right above them, and they were clearly identifiable as journalists holding their cameras. Israeli forces entered the house and reached them on the rooftop and searched the journalists. They confiscated the memory card of Al-Araby’s cameraman and forced them to leave at gunpoint, according to The New Arab and Al Araby TV.

On November 17, Al-Jazeera English videographer Joseph Handal was assaulted by Israeli settlers in Bethlehem, West Bank, according to the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa, the Palestinian News Network, and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. The attackers smashed the lights and windows of Handal’s car, and hit Handal in the face with a stone before he was taken to a hospital, those sources said.

On November 17, in Jerusalem, reporter Murat Can Ozturk and camera operator Ahmet Bagis of Turkish news channel TRT Haber were assaulted while live on air from the area, covering Israeli forces clashing with Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem’s Wadi Al Joz neighborhood. An Israeli border police officer broke the camera with his weapon, according to TRT Haber, Turkey’s Daily Sabah newspaper, and TRT’s manager in Jerusalem, Yalcin Aka, who spoke to CPJ over the phone.

On October 16, journalist and columnist Israel Frey went into hiding after his home was attacked the previous day by a mob of far-right Israelis after he expressed solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, according to Haaretz and Middle East Eye.

On October 12, BBC Arabic reporters Muhannad Tutunji, Haitham Abudiab, and their team were dragged from their vehicle, searched, and held at gunpoint by police in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, despite their vehicle being marked “TV” in red tape and Tutunji and Abudiab presenting their press cards to police, the BBC reported. The broadcaster said Tutunji was struck on the neck and his phone was thrown on the ground while trying to film the incident. 

In response, the Israeli police issued a statement, quoted by the BBC, that its officers noticed “a suspicious vehicle and stopped it for inspection” and searched the vehicle “for fear of possession of weapons.”

On October 7, Sky News Arabia said that its team in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon was assaulted by Israeli police. The channel’s correspondent, Firas Lutfi, said the police pointed rifles at his head, forced him to undress, confiscated their phones, and escorted them out of the area, according to Sky News Arabia and the Cairo-based Alwafd news.

Arrests

On November 20, the award-winning Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha was detained and questioned by Israeli forces as he was fleeing into southern Gaza with his family, according to The New Yorker, CNN, and Al-Jazeera. He was released the following day, those sources said. Abu Toha recently wrote for The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Atlantic about the impact of Israeli strikes on his neighborhood.

“I’m safe but I still have severe pain in my nose and teeth after being beaten by the Israeli army,” Abu Toha posted on Facebook on November 24. “I gave them all my family’s passports, including my American son’s passport but they didn’t return anything to me. Also my clothes and my children’s were taken and not returned to me. No wallet, no money, no credit cards. Everything was confiscated.”

The IDF said in a statement that Abu Toha was taken into questioning because of “intelligence indicating of a number of interactions between several civilians and terror organizations inside the Gaza Strip,” according to The Times of Israel and CNN.  

On November 19, Palestinian freelance journalist Fathi Atkidik was arrested by Israeli soldiers at his home in Hebron, West Bank, after a dawn raid, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, Palestinian press freedom group MADA, the London-based news website The New Arab, and the journalist’s brother Faiz Atkidik, who spoke to CPJ via phone. Faiz Atkedik said that his brother was arrested over a Facebook post, and that he was being interrogated in Etzion detention center in Bethlehem, which belongs to the Israeli internal security service, known as Shabak or the Shin Bet.

On November 19, Palestinian journalist Tarek ElSharif, who works for Raya FM Radio, was arrested by Israeli soldiers at his home in Ramallah, West Bank, after a dawn raid, according to the Palestinian press freedom group MADA, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, the London-based news website The New Arab, and the journalist’s wife Suha Tamim, who spoke to CPJ over the phone. Tamim said ElSharif was being held at Ofer prison and was arrested because of his journalism, specifically his reporting on Gaza and his program “With People,” adding that ElSharif did not cover politics. 

On November 18, Palestinian journalist Ibrahim Zouhairy was arrested by Israeli forces at his home in Burham town, northern Ramallah, West Bank, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. CPJ is awaiting more details of the arrest, including where Zouhairy was being held and why he was arrested.

On November 17, Palestinian freelance photographer and activist Abdalafo Bassam Zaghir was arrested by Israeli soldiers at Damascus gate near Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, according to Quds Network, the Palestinian press freedom group MADA, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, and Sanad News Agency.   

On November 16, Palestinian journalist Mervat Al Azze was placed under arrest after being questioned by Israeli police in Jerusalem over Facebook posts. Al Azze, a part-time producer covering Gaza for NBC, was charged with incitement and transferred to a military court in Jerusalem, according to the London-based news website The New Arab, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, the Palestinian press freedom group MADA, and her lawyer Jad Qadamani who told CPJ via messaging app that Al Azze had been held and interrogated for more than three days.

On November 8, Israeli soldiers arrested journalist Mohamad Al-Atrash, a host for the program “People’s Discussions” at the local Palestinian Radio Alam, after raiding his house in Hebron, West Bank, according to the radio, the London-based news website The New Arab, and the Palestinian press freedom group MADA. Al-Atrash’s wife told Radio Alam that he was arrested and his phone confiscated in a dawn raid. 

On November 8, Israeli soldiers arrested reporter Amer Abu Arafa, a freelance reporter who works for the London-based Quds Press agency and Shehab news agency, after raiding his house in Hebron, West Bank, according to the Quds Press agency, the London-based news website The New Arab, the Palestinian press freedom group MADA, and the journalist’s brother Ammar Abu Arafa, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app. Ammar Abu Arafa told CPJ that Israeli soldiers broke down their door, raided their house, assaulted his brother, and confiscated his phone. He noted that his brother has health issues and requires medication for paranasal sinuses. Amer Abu Arafa, 39, was previously arrested and placed under administrative detention in July 2022 without charges or trial for eight months, according to his news outlet, Ultra Palestine news website, and his brother, who told CPJ that Amer Abu Arafa was only freed four months ago.

On November 5, journalist Ameer Abo Iram, who works for the West Bank’s Ramallah-based news outlet Al-Ersal, was arrested during a raid by Israeli soldiers on his home in Birzeit, Ramallah, according to a video shared by Al-Ersal on Facebook, a statement by the Palestinian press freedom group MADA, and his wife Joman Abu Arafa, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app. Abu Arafa told CPJ that her husband Abo Iram was previously arrested in October 2017 over his journalism, when he was a reporter for the Hamas affiliated Al-Aqsa channel. He was freed in late November 2017, according to the Beirut-based press freedom group SKeyes. 

On November 5, Somaya Jawabra, a 30-year-old freelance journalist from Nablus in the northern West Bank, was arrested. She was summoned, along with her husband, journalist Tariq Al-Sarkaji, for an investigation at the Israeli police station in the Ari’el camp. While her husband was later released, Jawabra, who is seven months pregnant, remains in detention. Her arrest followed about two weeks of incitement against her by settlers in a Telegram group, according to her husband and London-based news website The New Arab, RT Arabic, and the Palestinian press freedom group MADA. The New Arab said settlers accused Jawabra of having Hamas ties and of inciting against Israel. On November 12, Jawabra was released from prison under the condition of house arrest for an indefinite period, and bail of 10,000 Shekels (about $2,588 U.S. dollars), and a third-party bail of 50,000 Shekels (about $12,940 U.S. dollars), in addition to preventing her from using the internet, and keeping her, her husband, and her mother-in-law under home supervision, according to the London-based news website The New Arab, and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate.

On October 29, 62-year-old journalist Nawaf Al-Amer of Sanad news agency was arrested in a raid by Israeli soldiers on his house in Kafr Qallil town of Nablus in the West Bank, according to his son, Ibrahim Al-Amer, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app, and Al-Shabab local radio in Nablus. The Palestinian press freedom group MADA reported that Al-Amer was arrested at 4:00 a.m. on October 29, after his house was searched and his phone was confiscated. MADA also reported that Al-Amer suffers from health issues, including diabetes, and needs medical care, which was confirmed to CPJ by his son, Ibrahim Al-Amer. Al-Amer was previously arrested in 2011, when he was working as a programs director at the Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds TV channel, and spent 13 months in administrative detention, before he was freed in 2012, according to the Beirut-based press freedom group SKeyes and MADA. Al-Quds, which airs from Lebanon, was banned by Israel in 2018, CPJ documented.

On October 28, journalist Mohamed Bader of al-Hadath newspaper in the city of Ramallah, West Bank, gave himself up to the IDF for detention, his wife Soujoud Al-Assi and the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Rola Sarhan told CPJ. Al-Assi, also a journalist with Al-Hadath, told CPJ that she was arrested earlier that day to pressure her husband to surrender but she was later freed. On October 23, Israeli forces arrested Bader’s father and two brothers for the same reason, according to the Beirut-based press freedom group SKeyes and Al-Assi. The IDF had previously detained Bader from April until August, according to the London-based news website The New Arab and the Palestinian news website Amad. 

On October 26, Lama Khater, a freelance writer with Middle East Monitor and the Palestinian news website Felesteen and a political activist, was arrested by the IDF in the city of Hebron, West Bank, her husband Hazem Fakhoury told CPJ, and Al-Jazeera and the Beirut-based press freedom group SKeyes reported. Fakhoury said he did not know the reason for his wife’s arrest but that her lawyer had told him that Khater would be transferred to administrative detention—incarceration without charge, alleging that a person plans to commit an offense. Khater was previously arrested in 2018 and detained for more than a year over her critical reporting, according to the Palestine Information Center and the Middle East Monitor. On November 8, Khater’s husband told CPJ via messaging app that soldiers in her cell threatened her with rape and burning of her children. Her lawyer, Hassan Abbadi, who visited her in prison, also wrote about these details on his Facebook page, which was also reported by Al-Jazeera. The lawyer told CPJ via phone call that Khater was strip searched, and threatened to be “deported to Gaza.”

On October 18, two Palestinian journalists Alaa Rimaway and Imad Abu Awad were arrested by the IDF, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the London-based news website The New Arab.

On October 16, four Palestinian journalists—Mustafa Al-Khawaja, Sabri Jabr, Abdel Nasser Al-Laham, and Muath Amarna—were arrested in the West Bank by the IDF, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the London-based news website The New Arab. CPJ spoke with the families of four of the six journalists who confirmed the arrests and said they believed their relatives had been arrested because of their social media commentary on the conflict.

On October 29, Amarna was transferred to administrative detention—incarceration without charge, alleging that a person plans to commit an offense—for six months, the Palestinian news agency Wattan and the Palestinian press freedom group MADA reported. In a statement, Amarna’s family said that the journalist needed medical care as he was diabetic and missing an eye but the IDF had refused him to take him to hospital and denied him access to a lawyer.

Threats

On November 22, Anas Al-Sharif, a reporter and videographer for Al-Jazeera Arabic in northern Gaza, reported receiving threats from Israeli military officers via the phone, according to Al-Jazeera and the Beirut-based press freedom group SKeyes. Al-Sharif said on Al-Jazeera that he had received multiple phone calls from officers in the Israeli army instructing him to cease coverage and leave northern Gaza. Additionally, he received voice notes on WhatsApp disclosing his location. However, he emphasized his role as one of the few journalists remaining to cover northern Gaza and stated his determination to stay and continue reporting. The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate issued a statement expressing concern about the imminent risk faced by journalists in the north, citing threats against some of them, including Al-Sharif.

From November 19-26, journalist Motaz Azaiza received multiple threats from anonymous numbers urging him to cease his coverage in northern Gaza and relocate to the south or flee to Egypt, according to his post on X, formerly Twitter, and the Amman-based news outlets Roya News and Al Bawaba. Azaiza has been reporting on the war via his Instagram account, which has over 14 million followers, and has gained significant recognition in the media, as his coverage has provided a window from Gaza to the world.

On November 5, a team of journalists from the German public broadcaster ARD, including ARD correspondent Jan-Christoph Kitzler, accompanied by a Palestinian and a German network employee, were returning from reporting on violence by settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank. They were stopped by Israeli soldiers south of the Palestinian city of Hebron. The soldiers threatened the journalists with their weapons, and even questioned whether they were Jewish, according to the German television news service Tagesschau and Haaretz. One team member was also called a traitor, according to the same sources. Kitzler posted a photo on the social media platform X, showing one of the soldiers aiming a gun towards him. Kitzler attributed the soldiers’ aggression to the team reporting on increasing settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, writing in his post that “it’s noteworthy that many of the soldiers in that area are settlers themselves, creating an environment where journalists are generally unwelcome.”

Christian Limpert, the head of the ARD Tel Aviv studio, also called the incident as an attempt to obstruct ARD and other international media from reporting in the West Bank, according to Tagesschau and Haaretz.

After more than an hour, the situation eased when the IDF’s Foreign Desk, responsible for foreign correspondents, mediated by telephone. Haaretz reported that the IDF apologized and stated its commitment to ensuring freedom of the press in the West Bank. Limpert reported that days before this incident, soldiers detained an ARD cameraman and his soundman for two hours from reporting on settler violence near Qawawis in South Hebron. During that incident, their phones and camera were temporarily confiscated, according to Haaretz and the Foreign Press Association in Israel (FPA)’s statement.

On October 30, Al-Jazeera’s Gaza Strip correspondent Youmna El-Sayed told the broadcaster that her husband received a threatening phone call from a private number from a man who identified himself as a member of the IDF and told the family “to leave or die,” according to the advocacy group Women In Journalism and CNN Arabic. El-Sayed told Al-Jazeera English that she felt it was too risky to drive on any road in Gaza, especially as two cars had been shelled by a tank earlier in the day and that the previous time her family had tried to flee Gaza City, they had been forced to turn back because of Israel’s bombardment of southern Gaza.

On October 15, RT Arabic correspondent Dalia Nammari and her crew, who held Israeli press cards, were stopped by Israeli police at the border for identity checks, according to RT Arabic and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. One officer threatened Dalia with his weapon and they warned the crew not to return to the location or else they risked arrest, those sources said.

On October 15, a video posted by Al-Araby TV depicted an Israeli police officer shouting and swearing at their correspondent while he was reporting live from Ashdod in southern Israel. The journalist said on air that the officer was armed.

On October 14, Al-Jazeera shared footage from an area in southern Israel near the Gaza Strip, known as the Gaza envelope, showing four IDF soldiers ordering Al-Jazeera journalists to stop filming and leave the area immediately. The incident was also covered by Arabia News 24.

CPJ’s emails requesting comment on these incidents from the IDF spokesperson for North America and the Israeli police did not receive any replies.

Cyberattacks

On November 11, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate announced that its website had been subjected to cyberattacks. The syndicate added that they believed it was a targeted attack due to their role in reporting on crimes committed against journalists, according to the syndicate and Rania Khayyat, who was working for the syndicate and spoke with CPJ.

On November 10, Plestia Alaqad, a Palestinian journalist whose Instagram reporting from Gaza has been featured by NBC News and The New York Times, said on X, formerly Twitter, that she had experienced multiple hacking incidents on her Instagram account. This was also reported by Sinar Daily. Several other journalists reporting from Gaza through Instagram also reported hacking attempts. Journalist Yara Eid suggested that these incidents might be politically motivated cyberattacks aimed at undermining the credibility and work of Palestinian journalists, according to the Coalition For Women in Journalism and Sinar Daily.

On November 3, Al-Mamlaka TV in Jordan experienced cyberattacks on its website, according to a statement by the channel and the Beirut-based press freedom group SKeyes. The channel said on X, formerly Twitter, that this attack was related to its coverage of the war in Gaza.

On October 31, Al-Jazeera released a statement confirming that its websites and servers were targeted in a cyberattack, attributed to its coverage of the Israel-Gaza war. Al-Jazeera disclosed that certain attackers’ IP addresses were linked to a party actively participating in the ongoing conflict, while other IPs made efforts to mask their true origins, according to Al-Jazeera and the Lebanese news website Al-Modon.

On October 18,  the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency, Wafa, experienced a cyberattack that disrupted its news website, according to Wafa and the Amman-based news outlet Roya News. “This attack is part of a broader effort to suppress Palestinian media and silence platforms of truth,” Wafa said. CPJ was unable to determine who carried out the attack.

On October 9, The Jerusalem Post reported that its website was down due to a series of cyberattacks the previous day. The group Anonymous Sudan claimed responsibility for these attacks on Telegram, Axios and Time magazine reported.

Censorship

On November 23, 2023, Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi proposed a government resolution to cease any state advertising, subscriptions, or other commercial connections with the Haaretz daily newspaper, according to Haaretz and The Times of Israel. He cited what he described as the publication’s “defeatist and false propaganda” against the State of Israel during wartime. However, the Cabinet did not approve the proposal, likely due to criticism from the Union of Journalists, which slammed it as “harmful to freedom of the press” and a “populist” maneuver to curry favor with the political base. Karhi, who led efforts to pass emergency regulations to shut down foreign broadcasters deemed harmful to national security, also  included domestic media as well in his initial draft, the Times of Israel reported.

On November 12, Israel’s security cabinet approved a decision to shut down the Lebanon-based broadcaster and the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen TV in Israel. This move aligned with emergency regulations passed last month, enabling the government to close foreign news outlets deemed to be harming national security, as reported by the Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel. According to these sources, the Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi was authorized to order the channel’s Israel offices closed and its equipment confiscated.

On November 8, 2023, the Israeli Knesset passed an amendment to the Counter-Terrorism Law, introducing a new criminal offense called the “consumption of terrorist materials,” with a maximum penalty of one year’s imprisonment, according to Al-Jazeera and The Times of Israel. The amendment adds a new offense to Article 24 of Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Law, described as the “systematic and continuous consumption of publications of a terrorist organization under circumstances that indicate identification with the terrorist organization.” Several human rights organizations have raised concerns about the ramifications of the law on freedom of expression, press freedom, and journalists. The law’s broad terms could potentially be weaponized against journalists who rely on consuming information from entities or sources designated as “terrorist” by Israel, compromising their work.

On October 30, Rolling Stone magazine announced that the Israeli government denied a press credential to its journalist Jesse Rosenfeld, who has covered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration critically.  “Rolling Stone is not a news organization and we are not dealing with this gentleman, thank you,” Ron Paz, Israel’s director of foreign press, told Rolling Stone on Monday, according to Rolling Stone and The Wrap entertainment website.

On October 29, Israeli authorities shut down Dream radio station, which is based in Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank, on the grounds that it was disrupting the movement of their aircraft, according to the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa, Palestinian news agency Maan, and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. The director of the station Talab Al-Jaabari told CPJ that “the head of the Israeli intelligence called me and threatened me with confiscation of equipment. There was no official order.” Dream was previously closed by the IDF in 2015 and 2022. 

On October 16, Israel proposed new emergency regulations that would allow it to halt media broadcasts that harm “national morale.” Officials have threatened to close Al-Jazeera’s local offices under this proposed rule, and to block the global news outlet from freely reporting on the war.

On October 16, the IDF ordered the West Bank-based J-Media agency to shut down, according to the Palestinian press freedom group MADA and the London-based news website The New Arab. In a statement, the IDF described the media outlet as “an illegal organization” and said its closure was necessary for “the sake of the security of the State of Israel and for the safety of the public and public order,” those sources said, adding that J-Media complied and ceased its operations immediately. J-Media provides footage and media services to broadcasters and covers Palestinian news, according to the Beirut-based press freedom group SKeyes and CPJ’s review of its website.

More on journalist casualties in the Israel-Gaza conflict

See our safety resources for journalists covering conflict

Source of original article: Middle East & North Africa Archives – Committee to Protect Journalists (cpj.org).
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