‘Targeted attack’: Al Jazeera journalist’s wife, children killed in Gaza ‘safe area’

Meanwhile, a report pointed out that the US secretary of state earlier told Qatar PM to ‘tone down Al Jazeera rhetoric’.

WrittenBy:NL Team
A tweet about the death of journalist Wael Al-Dahdouh's family members.

“Help us to stay alive,” stated Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Al-Dahdouh’s 15-year-old son Mahmoud and seven-year-old daughter Sham in a message on social media, days before they were killed along with their mother in what the journalist called a “targeted” Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

Shortly before the deaths were confirmed, Dahdouh, a 53-year-old journalist with years of experience of conflict reportage, had been reporting on Israeli airstrikes in the area. As news about deaths in his family was telecast, an Al Jazeera anchor broke down on air.

Dahdouh’s family had left their home after initial bombardments and had reportedly been living in the United Nations-recognised Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, which was called a “safe area” by Israeli forces.

The veteran journalist’s colleagues paid tribute to his family, and condolences also poured in from across the world. Al Jazeera’s Youmna Elsayed said from Gaza that it was “heartbreaking to be reporting about Wael’s family and to see how broken he is”. She pointed out that Dahdouh had been receiving threats and warnings. “He didn’t leave Gaza City. He stayed despite all the threats and warnings and didn’t stop for 19 days in a row. He said, ‘I must be here in Gaza City to report about these people who are getting bombed every day’...He didn’t give up on them. He didn’t want to leave.”

Dahdouh said, “What happened is clear. This is a series of targeted attacks on children, women and civilians. I was just reporting from Yarmouk about such an attack, and the Israeli raids have targeted many areas, including Nuseirat…We had our doubts that the Israeli occupation would not let these people go without punishing them. And sadly, that is what happened. This is the ‘safe’ area that the occupation army spoke of.”

Al Jazeera issued a strongly-worded statement condoling the death of Al-Dahdouh’s family, and condemning the Israeli action. “The indiscriminate assault by the Israeli Occupation forces resulted in the tragic loss of his wife, son and daughter, while the rest of his family is buried under the rubble.” It also said that it was “deeply concerned” about the safety, and well-being of its journalists in Gaza, for which it holds the Israeli authorities responsible. 

Dahdouh received the news of his family’s death “while on-air, covering the nonstop Israeli strikes on Gaza”, said Mohamad Moawad, Al Jazeera managing editor. Videos showed the journalist, still in his press vest, entering Gaza’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital to see his dead wife, son and daughter. 

Dahdouh, however, was not the only Palestinian journalist to have suffered such losses. The family of another Palestinian journalist Mohammad Farra were reportedly killed in an Israeli airstrike as the four-storey building housing them in south Gaza’s Khan Younis collapsed, according to US-based portal BNN Network

Farra was also reportedly on duty when he was informed about his family’s death. A video widely circulated on social media showed him sitting in a car wearing his press vest, as he broke down after receiving the news.    

At least 6,546 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza, while over 1,400 people have been killed by Hamas in Israel since the conflict escalated on October 7.  

So far, at least 23 journalists – including 19 Palestinians, three Israelis and one Lebanese – have also been killed in the flare-up. 

‘Tone down rhetoric’ 

The Qatar-headquartered Al Jazeera is funded by the Qatari government, which has reportedly “faced scrutiny over its ties to Hamas”.

About two weeks ago, US secretary of state Tony Blinken had reportedly asked Qatar prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani to “tone down Al Jazeera’s rhetoric” on the conflict, Axion reported.    

Earlier this month, Israel also approved a regulation to prohibit news organisations from “undermining national security, public order or serving as a basis for enemy propaganda” — a move seen as aimed at Al Jazeera and other media outlets operating in Palestinian territories. 

Following the development, press associations urged Israel not to proceed. The Committee to Protect Journalists asked the Israeli authorities not to close the local bureau of Al Jazeera, while the International Federation of Journalists also appealed to the government to review its decision.

Meanwhile, the editor-in-chief of science journal eLife said he had been sacked for tweeting a piece “calling out indifference towards Palestinian civilians” by satire portal The Onion. 

Earlier, at least six BBC reporters were taken off air over their posts and likes on social media that “seemed to support activities of Hamas against Israel”, Financial Times reported.  

Reports said US-based television channel MSNBC also suspended “three Muslim anchors” — Mehdi Hasan, Ayman Mohyeldin and Ali Velshi amid American outrage over the Hamas attack. However, MSNBC denied the allegations and said it was a coincidental shuffle.

UK-based The Guardian, meanwhile, said it would not renew the contract of its cartoonist Steve Bell – who has been contributing to the outlet for over 40 years – reportedly over an alleged “antisemitic cartoon” of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Also see
article imageFrom writer who lost his ‘orchard’ to mother of 3: Journalist toll rises in Israel-Palestine violence
article imageAt least 21 journalists dead so far, most in Israeli attacks: CPJ report


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