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Family of Al Jazeera Gaza’s bureau chief killed in targeted Israeli airstrike

Footage that emerged online showed him cradling a toddler and later bidding farewell to his son who was laying in a white shroud at a hospital.

The family of Al Jazeera Gaza’s bureau chief was killed in an Israeli airstrike on the besieged Strip on Wednesday, the Qatari-network confirmed.

Prominent correspondent, Wael Dahdouh lost his wife, son and daughter in an Israeli attack on a residential area in the south of Gaza, where the Israeli military had previously told families to flee to following evacuation orders from the north.

Dahdouh was “delivering the truth to the international community and to everyone in the world about what is happening on the ground,” when he received the tragic news, Al Jazeera reported.

His family was temporarily“residing in the house in … al-Nuseirat refugee camp. The Israeli aircraft targeted the house,” Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum added. 

Footage that emerged online showed him cradling a toddler and later bidding farewell to his son who was laying in a white shroud at a hospital.

Speaking outside the facility on Wednesday evening, Dahdouh suggested they were targeted for his work.

“What just happened is clear; it’s part of the ongoing targeting of women and children in Gaza. I was just reporting on the Israeli strikes that have targeted the Nuseirat area.”

“We knew the Israeli occupation would not leave us without punishing us. They are taking out their revenge onto the children. But our tears are human, not out of cowardice,” he added.

His colleague, Al Jazeera Arabic producer Safwat al-Kahlout, said the family was well known.

“I’ve known Wael for more than 20 years … His family is one of the most famous families in the Gaza Strip. It’s a well known family.

“He paid the bill for reporting the truth, which was expected. And now, we have been receiving lots of phone calls from relatives to move and change our places, especially those who live abroad, thinking that there could be a safe place.

“Now, it’s the moment that Wael needs everyone around him. But unfortunately, it’s too dangerous to reach him and stay with him in these difficult moments.

“Once, we visited his family for a family visit, my wife met his wife personally. She said I loved his wife … we all feel sorry for what happened and especially that we cannot reach Wael and stay with him in these difficult moments.

“That is another pain to add to what we suffer from now.”

Over the years, Al Jazeera has been subjected to various deliberate attacks by Israel for its detailed and impartial coverage of the violence committed by the IOF against Palestinians, including the latest war on Gaza.

Unlike other renowned media outlets that have been accused of parroting the Israeli narrative, Al Jazeera explicitly details the suffering of millions of Palestinians through its reporters and journalists on the ground.

The killing of Dahdouh’s family comes amid reported plans by Israel to shut down Al Jazeera’s local bureau for its coverage of the Israeli war on Gaza.

Last week, Middle East Eye cited Israeli media on an alleged approval of Israel’s attorney general’s request to shut down the Qatar-based broadcaster.

The reports said that attorney general Gali Baharav-Miara and Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi had reached an agreement on the wording of “emergency regulations” that would ban the Qatari outlet’s operations.

A separate report pointed to an emergency Israeli cabinet meeting on the matter in which Karhi sought to approve the closure of Al Jazeera’s coverage in Israel. Reports at the time suggested that Israeli security officials had vetted the proposal.

The Qatari-based Al Jazeera network has yet to comment on the matter. 

Palestinian digital rights defender Mona Shtaya told Doha News that the assaults on Al Jazeera fall under the broader Israeli pattern of manipulating the narrative and justifying its ongoing attacks on innocent civilians in Gaza.

“The recent assault on Al Jazeera is part of this broader pattern, intricately linked to the suppression and violence intended to manipulate the narrative, propagate disinformation, stifle the truth, and justify attacks on innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip,” Shtaya said.

“In these sensitive times, the real battle rages in the realm of information. Amidst the unfolding events, we’ve witnessed a multifaceted suppression of voices, coupled with acts of violence targeting communication infrastructure, such as attacks on journalists, media outlets and disruptions to internet and electricity services,” Shtaya added.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) separately told Doha News that it is “watching with great concern” the Israeli government’s threats to “censor media coverage” of the events in Gaza.

“We are watching with great concern efforts by Israeli government officials and political leaders to threaten and censor media coverage of the ongoing conflict in Gaza using vague accusations of harming national morals,” Sherif Mansour, CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator, virtually told Doha News.

Notably, the killing of Dahdouh’s family occurred hours after Al Jazeera issued a statement welcoming the findings of the Independent International Investigative Committee of the United Nations, which recognised that Israeli forces used “lethal force without justification” when they shot and killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank last year.

“Al Jazeera Media Network welcomed the findings of the Independent International Investigative Committee of the United Nations in connection to the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, Al Jazeera correspondent in Palestine. Based on these findings, the Network is calling to take swift action to ensure justice for her and hold her killers accountable,” the network’s statement read.

The UN Commission’s report left no room for doubt and declared that Israeli occupation forces (IOF) employed “lethal force without justification” in targeting the late Abu Akleh.

It underscored the urgent necessity of holding both those responsible for her death and those involved in her targeting accountable for their actions.

The UN body called for full cooperation from the Israeli regime in the United States investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh. Al Jazeera backed Commission’s commitment to sharing the evidence it has gathered with the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Al Jazeera supports the Commission’s pledge to provide the evidence it has gathered to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to support the Court’s investigation into the situation in the State of Palestine,” the Al Jazeera statement said.

This move is seen as crucial to supporting the Court’s ongoing investigation into the situation in Palestine. Al Jazeera appealed to the Prosecutor of the ICC, Karim Khan, urging him to initiate an immediate investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh.