Motaz Azaiza, a young Palestinian journalist who gained a massive following for documenting Israel’s ongoing assault, has evacuated out of Gaza — a decision that comes as the situation in the enclave grows more dire by the day, especially for members of the press.

On Tuesday, the 24-year-old posted a video on Instagram announcing that he was leaving Gaza. Patting the blue ‘PRESS’ jacket with which the world has come to identify him and other Palestinian journalists, Azaiza told viewers that the video is “the last time you will see me with this heavy, stinky vest.”

“I decided to evacuate today,” he said, taking a deep sigh. “I’m sorry, but inshallah, hopefully soon I’ll come back and help to build Gaza again.”

The video ended with Azaiza’s friends and fellow journalists — including some with big followings, like Hind Khoudary — helping him take off the vest, which he began wearing after the conflict broke out, more than 100 days ago.

“I’ll miss these people,” Azaiza said, embracing the journalists while throwing up a peace sign.

Subsequent videos that Azaiza posted on his Instagram Stories show him boarding a Qatari military airplane from Egypt and arriving in Doha. The journalist said it was his first time on a plane.

“Should I be happy?” he wrote in a video he took from inside the aircraft.

The journalist did not say whether Qatar was his final destination. He also did not specify how or why he evacuated, only tweeting that he had to leave “for a lot of reasons,” and “you all know some of it but not all of it.”

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza — which several countries have now described as genocide — shows no end in sight, with more than 25,000 Palestinians dead and many more displaced, starving, severely wounded or buried under rubble. While Israeli policy has been hostile to Palestinians for decades, the latest violence erupted after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking about 200 hostages, some of whom have since been returned.

To help combat Israeli propaganda about the realities facing Gazans, journalists in the enclave went to work showing the world the horrors that Palestinian civilians and institutions are dealing with.

Specifically, Azaiza — whose follower count on Instagram has shot up to 18.3 million — has focused his coverage on raw, often traumatizing photos and videos of Palestinian families, particularly children, struggling to survive Israeli airstrikes on homes and hospitals. The journalist has also produced content for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Many of Gaza’s journalists are documenting the ongoing massacre despite themselves having lost their homes, loved ones and colleagues. Gaza has also faced supply shortages and communication blackouts, making journalists’ jobs that much harder.

Israeli airstrikes have killed Palestinian members of the press at a rate so alarming that global leaders and organizations have publicly voiced their opposition to the violence. As of Tuesday, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate reports that more than 100 journalists have been killed since Oct. 7. Israel has also arrested a total of 38 Palestinian journalists in the same time period, according to Reporters Without Borders.

As the casualties climb, journalists in Gaza are being left with few choices — they can either die trying to tell the world the truth, or, if possible, they can make the extremely difficult decision to escape their ancestral land to safety with no certainty they can return. Before Azaiza, high-profile journalist Plestia Alaqad announced that she had to end her on-the-ground reporting in Gaza to escape to Australia.

Reacting to Azaiza’s evacuation announcement, social media users called him a “hero” and thanked him for showing the world the truth about Israel effectively making Gaza uninhabitable.

“Writing this with a heavy heart and mixed emotions,” Khoudary wrote in an Instagram post dedicated to Azaiza on Tuesday. “You’ve been an incredible friend and brother. Your actions towards Palestine and Gaza set a unique mark in history. You’re a kindhearted, passionate, and generous soul. A true dreamer.”


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