SNP MP John Nicolson has hit out at the UK Culture and Media Secretary over her response to his question about the deaths of journalists covering the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

It comes as South Africa launches a case against the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

The MP for Ochil and South Perthshire told the House of Commons that Reporters Without Borders are saying that “Israel is now directly targeting journalists”.

“As an ex-BBC reporter, I’m in awe of my former colleagues’ bravery and impartiality when they cover world affairs,” Nicolson said.

“We’ve all followed with horror the Israeli bombardment of Gaza and Reporters Without Borders say it appears that Israel is now directly targeting journalists.

“The Al-Jazeera bureau chief has had three children killed, including his journalist son. What unimaginable pain.”

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He then questioned how the “Government’s refusal to call for a ceasefire is advancing the cause of journalistic freedom or peace in the region”.

“And can you tell us who the Government’s position has persuaded apart from the Labour frontbench which remains limpet close to the Tory position on Gaza as in so many other issues,” he added.

In a separate video posted on Twitter/X, Nicolson questioned why the Government wasn’t pushing for a ceasefire given it had a responsibility to “stand up for journalists”.

In response, the Minister of State for Media, Tourism and Creative Industries Julia Lopez said: “I simply wish to pay tribute to every journalist that puts their lives at risk to bring truth to the public attention.

“They play an incredibly important role. We are proud particularly of what the BBC journalists do. They’ve done some awesome things also in Ukraine.

“And as the Government, we just want to say we support what that work is and we pay tribute to them.”

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In his video on Twitter/X, Nicolson added: “And there you have it. No answer from the UK Culture Secretary.

“Of course, all of us admire the bravery of journalists but I wanted to know why it was that she wasn’t calling the Israelis out about the way in which so many journalists are dying in unprecedented numbers.

“It’s an issue clearly she does not want to address.”