A veteran journalist with Al Jazeera was back to reporting from the field in Gaza on Thursday, just one day after much of his family was killed by an Israeli airstrike on a Palestinian refugee camp.
In a video posted by AJ+, the Qatar-based network’s digital arm, Wael Dahdouh said that it was his “duty” to quickly return to work despite the loss of several members of his family.
“As you can see, the firing is ongoing everywhere,” the Gaza bureau chief said, showing smoke from an airstrike in the distance. “There are airstrikes and artillery shelling, and things continue to develop.”
On Wednesday, an Israeli airstrike hit the Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, killing many Palestinians — including Dahdouh’s 44-year-old wife, Amna, 16-year-old son, Mahmoud, 7-year-old daughter, Sham, and infant grandson, Adam. Eight other extended family members at the camp were also killed, including his cousin’s daughter, Hadeer, and her four children.
Dahdouh’s 27-year-old daughter, Bisan, was not at the camp at the time of the airstrike, according to Al Jazeera. On Thursday, she was waiting at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital for updates on her wounded but surviving siblings: Sondos, Kholoud, Batoul and Yehya.
Hanan Dahdouh, the journalist’s 81-year-old mother-in-law, also survived the attack but was severely wounded. She remains unconscious and unaware of her family’s massive losses, her son Ali told Al Jazeera on Thursday.
The Dahdouh family had recently evacuated from their homes in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in northern Gaza to the Nusseirat camp after Israel ordered Palestinians to move south to avoid being killed.
Wael Dahdouh, who has covered the Israeli apartheid and occupation for years, was broadcasting live about the very airstrike that likely hit where his family was sheltering, according to The National Press Club.
Photos and videos taken by fellow journalists in Gaza showed Dahdouh walking near the hospital and holding the partially wrapped, bloody bodies of his dead children. The correspondent was also shown carrying his grandson’s corpse while two women, reportedly relatives, cry and help support the boy’s body.
In the AJ+ video posted Thursday, Dahdouh said that he is grateful for the condolences but must continue reporting on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
“I felt that it was my duty, despite the pain and open wound, to get back in front of the camera, and to communicate with you on social media as soon as possible,” he said. “Thank you all, and please keep us in your prayers.”
Dahdouh’s family members are some of the thousands of Palestinians who have died in Gaza this month as a result of Israeli retaliation after Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing a reported 1,400 people and taking hundreds of hostages.
The Israeli military has since launched nonstop air attacks, prepared for a ground invasion, cut off water, food, fuel and medicine, and trapped Palestinians in the enclave. More than 7,000 Palestinians — 3,000 of whom are children — have been killed, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Despite U.S. President Joe Biden’s recent public skepticism about the death toll reported by the Hamas-linked ministry, HuffPost revealed that its numbers are cited internally by the American government.
The attack on Wednesday occurred a couple of weeks after Secretary of State Antony Blinken allegedly told Qatar’s prime minister to “turn down the volume” of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the violence in Gaza, which has led some human rights organizations to warn of ethnic cleansing. The airstrike also followed an Israeli official’s proposal to virtually shut down Al Jazeera in the Israel-Gaza area by claiming that certain broadcasting companies harm national security.