Israeli shelling in Gaza has killed several family members of a reporter for the news outlet Al Jazeera, highlighting the increasing violence against Palestinian civilians and the heightened risk journalists face in trying to cover the crisis.
Wael Dahdouh, one of the chief correspondents for Al Jazeera Arabic and the Gaza bureau chief, lost his wife, 15-year-old son Mahmoud and 7-year-old daughter Sham on Wednesday in an Israeli airstrike that devastated the Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Al Jazeera, a Qatar-based network, later confirmed that Dahdouh’s infant grandson was also killed in the attack. Other members of his family were believed to still be buried in the wreckage, according to Al Jazeera.
“He was broadcasting live reporting about the very Israeli airstrike believed to have hit the building where his wife, son and daughter were seeking shelter,” the National Press Club said on Wednesday. “He learned while on the air that all three had died.”
Majdi Fathi, a freelance photographer in Gaza, posted a video on Instagram of Dahdouh crying over his son’s bloody and partially wrapped body. Fathi also posted a separate video of Dahdouh carrying his daughter’s small, bloody body. Video uploaded by Gaza photojournalist Motaz Azaiza shows Dahdouh holding his grandson’s corpse while two women and a man Azaiza says are relatives cry and kiss the boy.
According to Israeli officials, more than 1,400 Israelis have been killed since Hamas launched its attack on the country Oct. 7.
Israel’s military on Wednesday raised the number of hostages believed taken captive by Hamas to 222. Four hostages have been released.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, nearly 7,000 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 17,500 others wounded since Israel retaliated for the Oct. 7 attack. In the occupied West Bank, which does not house Hamas, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,600 wounded.
Tamer Almisshal, an Al Jazeera Arabic journalist and a close friend of Dahdouh’s, claimed that the correspondent and his family were a target for Israel.
“He has been targeted. A family of a journalist has been targeted. And he’s not the only one during this war,” Almisshal said, according to Al Jazeera. “We’re talking about more than 20 journalists [who] have been killed with their families.”
“His daughter [and] grandson were civilians. … from my experience and knowledge of this great friend and colleague, Wael will continue his coverage,” he said. “Al Jazeera coverage won’t stop. This is our responsibility.”
A week earlier, Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi proposed new emergency regulations that would give him the ability to halt media broadcasts and take away related equipment if an outlet’s content is considered “enemy propaganda.” The proposal appeared to be a direct threat to Al Jazeera ― one of the few international media outlets that had a physical presence in both Gaza and Israel ― which Karhi accused of harming national security.
“We are deeply concerned by Israeli officials’ threats to censor media coverage of the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict, using vague accusations of harming national morale,” said Sherif Mansour, the Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“CPJ urges Israel not to ban Al-Jazeera and to allow journalists to do their jobs. A plurality of media voices is essential to hold power to account, especially in times of war.”
In 2017, Israel threatened to close Al Jazeera’s bureau in Jerusalem and to expel the broadcaster. In 2021, Israel bombed a media tower in Gaza that was home to Al Jazeera’s office. In 2022, an Israeli soldier shot and killed Palestinian American correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, a veteran Al Jazeera correspondent who was covering an Israeli army operation in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin.
On Oct. 13, an airstrike on southern Lebanon wounded six journalists, including Al Jazeera’s Eli Brakhya and Carmen Joukhadar. Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah was killed in the strike.
According to CPJ, at least 24 journalists have been killed in the violence this month ― 20 Palestinians, three Israelis and one Lebanese. Nearly a dozen journalists have been reported injured, missing or detained.
“Al Jazeera is deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of our colleagues in Gaza, and hold the Israeli authorities responsible for their security,” Al Jazeera said in a statement.