Al Jazeera Journalists Fall Victims
In a tragic turn of events on January 7, 2024, an airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip resulted in the deaths of two Palestinian journalists associated with Al Jazeera. Son of Al Jazeera’s Gaza correspondent Wael Al-Dahdouh, Hamza Wael Dahdouh, and a video stringer for AFP, also working with Al Jazeera, Mustafa Thuria, were both killed.
Another journalist, Hazem Rajab, was seriously injured in the strike. However, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has responded to claims by the popular media outlet that the IDF was not responsible for these deaths.
The IDF stated that the journalists were traveling in a vehicle alongside a terror operative operating a drone. The IDF report added that a military aircraft identified and targeted a terrorist who was operating an aircraft in a manner that posed a risk to IDF forces.
Al Jazeera’s Statement
Al Jazeera released an official statement, accusing Israel of deliberately targeting the journalists and pledged to pursue legal measures against the perpetrators, deeming the attack as deliberate crimes against journalists. The network urged the International Criminal Court, governments, human rights organizations, and the United Nations to hold Israel accountable for this incident.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas has already claimed numerous lives, including journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists noted the rising toll on journalists who have lost their lives since the conflict started on October 7.
The committee noted that there have been at least 70 Palestinian, four Israeli, and three Lebanese reporters who are dead.
Israel Denies Huge Accusation
Meanwhile, Israel maintains that it does not deliberately target journalists and attributes the high death toll to Hamas’ tactics of embedding themselves within densely populated urban areas, using civilians as shields. Nevertheless, Israel stated it remains committed to dismantling the military and governance capabilities of Hamas and ensuring the safe return of the hostages.
Impact On Journalists
Amer Abu Amr, a surviving photojournalist, shared his experience of narrowly escaping the strike with another journalist, Ahmed al-Bursh. Thuria and Hamza Wael Dahdouh were assigned to film the aftermath of a strike in Rafah, and their vehicle was hit while they were returning, as reported by AFP correspondents.
Wael Dahdouh, 53, has been prominently featured in Al Jazeera’s continuous coverage of this conflict and past conflicts, often seen wearing the recognizable flak jacket and blue helmet worn by journalists in Palestinian territories.
During Hamas’ attack on October 7, Dahdouh suffered the loss of his wife, two other children, and a grandson in the violence that claimed 1,200 lives, mostly civilians, and took 240 hostages. In an emotionally charged statement, Wael Dahdouh expressed his determination to continue his journalistic duties of reporting the ongoing conflict despite personal tragedies. He urged the global community to come to the aid of defenseless civilians in Gaza, referencing the injustices they’re facing.
Meanwhile, the incident drew international attention, prompting responses from global leaders, including the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Blinken expressed profound sorrow over the loss, acknowledging the unimaginable tragedy faced by Dahdouh, and emphasized the broader impact of the conflict on innocent Palestinian civilians.
Blinken is scheduled to visit the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel after leaving his current visit to Qatar.