Al Jazeera journalist loses fifth family member after Gaza strike kills son

Wael Dahdouh has continued to report on the fighting between Israel and Hamas even as it has taken a devastating toll on his family and almost got him killed.

This report contains distressing details. By Lottie Kilraine, ITV News Content Producer

An Al Jazeera journalist, who was told live on air that his wife and children had been killed last year, has lost a fifth member of his family after his son was killed in an apparent Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

The blast killed two Palestinian journalists, including veteran correspondent Wael Dahdou’s 27-year-old son, who was a freelance journalist also working for Al Jazeera, in southern Gaza on Sunday.

Hamza Dahdouh and Mustafa Tharaya, also a freelance journalist, were killed when a strike hit their car while they were driving to an assignment in southern Gaza, according to Al Jazeera.

A third journalist, Hazem Rajab, was seriously wounded, the news channel said.

Amer Abu Amr, a photojournalist, said in a Facebook post that he and another journalist, Ahmed al-Bursh, survived the strike.
There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

Dahdouh has continued his reporting of the situation in Gaza, appearing on air later that evening despite having buried his son earlier in the day.

Al Jazeera journalist Wael Dahdouh following the death of his son on Sunday. / Credit: AP

In October, Dahdouh had been working on a live broadcast for the TV channel when he received the news that his wife, 15-year-old son, and seven-year-old daughter had been killed.

His grandson, wounded in the same strike, died hours later.

The channel’s newsreader Abdisalam Farah announced the deaths live on air, visibly struggling to keep his composure and tearing up. The clip quickly went viral online at the time and was widely shared across social media platforms.

The Qatar-based broadcaster later aired footage of Dahdouh crying over the body of his son while still wearing his blue press vest.

The 53-year-old correspondent has continued to report on the fighting between Israel and Hamas, which is now in its third month, even as it continues to take a devastating toll on his own family.

For many, Dahdouh has become a symbol of the danger faced by Palestinian journalists who have remained in Gaza and the surrounding regions to report of the ongoing war.

Dahdouh, who has been the face of Al Jazeera’s 24-hour coverage of this war, has become known for almost-always appearing on air in a blue helmet and flak jacket worn to identify journalists during conflict reporting.

Speaking to Al Jazeera after his son’s burial, Dahdouh vowed to continue his work reporting on the war.

“The whole world must look at what is happening here in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

“What is happening is a great injustice to defenseless people, civilian people. It is also unfair for us as journalists.”

In a statement, Al Jazeera accused Israel of deliberately targeting the reporters and condemned the “ongoing crimes committed by the Israeli occupation forces against journalists and media professionals in Gaza.”

It also vowed to take “all legal measures to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes.”

In December, an Israeli strike on a school in Khan Younis wounded Dahdouh and an Al Jazeera cameraman, Samer Abu Daqqa.

Dahdouh was able to run for help, but Abu Daqqa bled to death hours later as ambulances were unable to reach him because of blocked roads, according to his employer.

Wael Al-Dahdouh looks down at his family members who were killed in airstrikes. / Credit: Getty

Earlier in December, a strike killed the father, mother and 20 other family members of another Al Jazeera correspondent, Momen Al Sharafi.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 70 Palestinian reporters, as well as four Israeli and three Lebanese reporters, have been killed since Hamas’ October 7 attack.

Over 22,800 Palestinians have been killed in the war, mostly women, children, and teenagers, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza. The figure does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths.

Some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel during the initial Hamas attack three months ago.

Israel denies targeting journalists and says it makes every effort to avoid harming civilians, blaming the high death toll on the fact that Hamas fights in densely populated urban areas.

Some 85% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have fled their homes, with most seeking shelter in Israeli-designated “safe zones” in southern Gaza. However, the IDF regularly carries out strikes in those areas.

Palestinian journalists have played a essential role in reporting on the conflict for local and international media outlets, many of which have struggled to access information due to regular internet black outs and the border being closed.

Israel and Egypt, which maintain a blockade on Gaza, have largely barred foreign reporters from entering Gaza since the war began.

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