Israel Kills Fifth Member Of Al Jazeera Correspondent’s Family In Gaza

An Israeli strike hit a vehicle in Gaza on Sunday that killed two journalists, including the eldest son of a veteran Al Jazeera correspondent who already lost much of his family in earlier bombings.

Journalists Hamza Dahdouh, Mustafa Thuraya and Hazem Rajab were driving to an assignment in southwest Gaza ― an area that was supposedly a safe zone ― when a missile blew up their car. The attack killed Dahdouh and Thuraya, and severely injured Rajab.

Hamza Dahdouh, a 27-year-old journalist, was the son of prominent Gaza correspondent and Al Jazeera Arabic bureau chief Wael Dahdouh. Hamza, who the network said was very attached to his family, followed in his father’s footsteps and joined Al Jazeera to help report on the territory.

“Hamza was everything to me, the eldest boy, he was the soul of my soul,” Wael Dahdouh told Al Jazeera on Sunday from the cemetery where his son was buried. “These are the tears of parting and loss, the tears of humanity.”

A view of the wrecked car that carried Palestinian journalists Mustafa Thuraya and Hamza Dahdouh, the son of Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh. The two journalists were killed in an Israeli bombing on their car on Sunday.
A view of the wrecked car that carried Palestinian journalists Mustafa Thuraya and Hamza Dahdouh, the son of Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh. The two journalists were killed in an Israeli bombing on their car on Sunday.

Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu via Getty Images

Wael Dahdouh, 53, has essentially become the resilient face of Al Jazeera’s Gaza coverage due to his strength and drive to continue reporting despite facing continued losses in his family. In October, an Israeli air raid on the Nuseirat refugee camp killed his wife Amna, 15-year-old son Mahmoud, 7-year-old daughter Sham and 1-year-old grandson Adam.

Video shared on social media at the time showed the veteran journalist, still in his press vest, running into the hospital that had the bodies of his loved ones, and saying goodbye as he cradled each of them. The next day, he went back to work, vowing to continue reporting on the slaughter of his people.

Last month, an Israeli strike on a school in Khan Younis wounded Wael himself and his colleague Samer Abudaqa. Wael was able to search for help, but Abudaqa bled to death for hours because ambulances were unable to reach him due to road blockades. After getting bandaged, Wael was back out reporting.

In response to the Sunday killing, the Al Jazeera Media Network fiercely condemned “in the strongest terms this heinous crime.” The Qatar-based news outlet, which has long been critical of the Israeli government’s actions toward Palestinians, has reported experiencing a growing number of journalists and staff in the region who have either lost family members in the strikes or been killed themselves.

“The assassination of Mustafa and Hamza … whilst they were on their way to carry out their duty in the Gaza Strip, reaffirms the need to take immediate necessary legal measures against the occupation forces to ensure that there is no impunity,” the network said.

Wael Dahdouh, Al Jazeera bureau chief in Gaza, comforts his daughter as they mourn over the body of his dead son Hamza, who also worked as a journalist for Al Jazeera and was killed in an Israeli air strike on Rafah. Dahdouh has previously lost his wife, two other children and a grandson, and was injured himself during the war.
Wael Dahdouh, Al Jazeera bureau chief in Gaza, comforts his daughter as they mourn over the body of his dead son Hamza, who also worked as a journalist for Al Jazeera and was killed in an Israeli air strike on Rafah. Dahdouh has previously lost his wife, two other children and a grandson, and was injured himself during the war.

Mohammed Talatene/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Israeli military has not immediately commented on the strike.

Watchdog groups and fellow Gaza journalists have both accused Israel of deliberately targeting the journalists. Since Israel began bombing Gaza in response to Hamas militants’ attack on Oct. 7, a disproportionate number of Palestinian journalists and their families have been killed.

According to The Committee to Protect Journalists, a watchdog organization that has been tracking journalist casualties in the region, Israeli strikes have killed at least 70 journalists in Gaza since Oct. 7. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate reported 102 journalists dead and 71 injured.

Journalists in Gaza have essentially become the public’s only way to see the realities of Israel’s unending bombardment of the territory. Palestinian reporters and photographers have shown the world the bloody chaos of doctors trying to save severely wounded babies with little to no medicine, of men digging through rubble with their bare hands to pull out family members hit by strikes, of children waiting in crowds to receive what little food is left, and of parents wailing while holding their dead sons and daughters.

The mass killing of Palestinian journalists makes it increasingly difficult for the public to see the devastation Israel has caused in Gaza ― devastation that has resulted in South Africa filing a case with the Hague that accuses Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians.

A press helmet is placed over the grave of Hamza Dahdouh.
A press helmet is placed over the grave of Hamza Dahdouh.

Mohammed Talatene/picture alliance via Getty Images

Thuraya and Hamza Dahdouh’s deaths demonstrate “without a doubt the Israeli forces’ determination to continue these brutal attacks against journalists and their families, aiming to discourage them from performing their mission, violating the principles of freedom of the press,” Al Jazeera said, adding that the attacks “undermine the right to life.”

On Sunday, CPJ called for the deaths of Thuraya and Hamza Dahdouh to be independently investigated to determine whether they were deliberately targeted by Israel. Reporters Without Borders also said it appears that Israel directly targeted the journalists, calling such an act “another war crime” and a “massive slaughter.”

“The continuous killings of journalists and their family members by Israeli army fire must end,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “The Dahdouh family and their journalist colleagues in Gaza are rewriting what it means to be a journalist today with immensely brave and never-seen-before sacrifices.”

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