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'Israeli airstrike' kills at least 4 members of Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief's family

At least four family members of a prominent Al Jazeera journalist in the Gaza Strip were killed, the news organisation said on Wednesday.

The network said the wife, son, daughter and infant grandson of Wael al-Dahdouh, the Gaza bureau chief of Al Jazeera’s Arabic-language service, were killed at the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, where they had been sheltering.

In a statement, Al Jazeera’s parent company, the Al Jazeera Media Network, blamed an Israeli airstrike and condemned the killings as an “indiscriminate assault.” It said al-Dahdouh’s family had taken refuge at the Nuseirat camp after Israel called for civilians to move south.

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,” the network said.

Details about the attack could not be independently confirmed, and the Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Al-Dahdouh had spent Wednesday reporting from Gaza City and learned of his family’s deaths live on air, an Al Jazeera editor, Mohamed Moawad, said in posts on social media.

Al Jazeera identified two of the deceased as al-Dahdouh’s teenage son, Mahmoud, and his young daughter, Sham. Footage aired by its Arabic-language channel Wednesday showed him crouching over his son’s body, stroking his face, inside what the network identified as Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah.

Photos also showed al-Dahdouh clutching what appeared to be his daughter’s small, shrouded body, looking down at her bloodied face in anguish.

In a translated interview aired by Al Jazeera’s English-language channel, al-Dahdouh, his face wet with tears, said no one was safe in Gaza.

Al-Dahdouh is “the voice of Palestinians in Gaza,” Hoda Abdel-Hamid, an Al Jazeera correspondent, wrote in a live update for the outlet’s coverage of the war, adding, “ask anyone when you walk around the streets there.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a watchdog group, said Wednesday that the war between Israel and Hamas has “taken a severe toll on journalists,” and that those in Gaza faced particularly high risks. At least 24 journalists — 20 of them Palestinian — were confirmed to have died in the conflict since Oct. 7, it said.

Among them is Issam Abdallah, a Reuters cameraman who was killed this month amid clashes on Lebanon’s southern border with Israel that injured six other journalists from Reuters, Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse.

Last year, Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera reporter known across the Middle East, was shot in the head and killed in the West Bank city of Jenin. Four months later, the Israeli army acknowledged for the first time that she was likely killed by an Israeli soldier, but stopped short of definitively accepting responsibility for her death.

(Published 26 October 2023, 03:50 IST)

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