GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories — Al Jazeera said Sunday two of its Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip were killed in an Israeli strike on their car, in what the Qatar-based media network claimed was a “targeted killing.”
Hamza Wael Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuria, who also worked as a video stringer for AFP and other news organisations, were killed while they were “on their way to carry out their duty” for the channel in the Gaza Strip, the network said.
A third freelance journalist travelling with them, Hazem Rajab, was seriously injured.
The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza also confirmed the deaths and blamed an Israeli strike.
Witnesses told AFP that two rockets were fired at the car – one hit the front of the vehicle and the other hit Hamza who was sitting next to the driver.
“We later found the body parts (of those in the car). The ambulance then came and carried those who were in the car,” a witness, who declined to give his name for security reasons, told AFP.
The Israeli army told AFP that it had “struck a fighter who operated an aircraft that posed a threat to IDF troops”, adding that it was “aware of the reports that during the strike, two other suspects who were in the same vehicle as the fighter were also hit.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the journalists’ deaths were an “unimaginable tragedy.”
“And that’s also been the case for… far too many innocent Palestinian men, women and children,” he said in Doha during a regional tour.
AFP video footage showed a crowd of people inspecting the car’s mangled remains, while pools of blood lay on the road. No other damage was visible in the area.
Al Jazeera said in a statement it “strongly condemns the Israeli occupation forces’ targeting of the Palestinian journalists’ car”, accusing Israel of “targeting” journalists and “violating the principles of freedom of the press.”
Hamza’s father Wael al-Dahdouh is Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief, and was recently wounded in a strike himself after his wife and two other children were killed in Israeli bombardment in the initial weeks of the war.
“Hamza was everything for me … while we are full of humanity they (Israel) are full of murder and hatred,” Dahdouh said on Al Jazeera television.
AFP’s global news director Phil Chetwynd said the agency was “shocked” by Mustafa’s death and its thoughts were with his family.
“We vigorously condemn all attacks against journalists doing their jobs and it is essential we have a clear explanation as to what happened,” Chetwynd added.
Crowds of people gathered later Sunday at the funeral where a tearful Dahdouh was seen kissing the hand of his dead son.
“The world should see with two eyes, not with an Israeli eye. They should see everything happening to the Palestinian people,” Dahdouh said.
“What did Hamza do to them (Israelis)? What did my family do to them? What did the civilians do to them? They did nothing to them, but the world closes its eyes to what’s happening in the Gaza Strip.”
Wael Dahdouh was wounded in an Israeli strike in December that also killed Al Jazeera cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa. The Qatar-based channel has lost three journalists since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7.
Thuria, in his 30s, had worked with AFP since 2019 and had also worked with other international media outlets.
Thuria and Hamza Wael Dahdouh had been tasked with filming the aftermath of a strike on a house in Rafah and their car was hit while they were on their way back, AFP correspondents said.
The war in Gaza erupted when Hamas stormed across Gaza’s border into Israel in an unprecedented attack which left some 1,140 people dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas and has kept up a relentless bombing of Gaza, which the Hamas-run health ministry says has killed 22,835 people, mostly civilians.
“We are in shock,” Christophe Deloire of the media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders wrote Sunday on X, formerly Twitter, calling the situation a “never-ending slaughter.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 79 journalists and media professionals, the vast majority Palestinian, have been killed since the start of the war.
In May 2022, Shireen Abu Akleh, a veteran Palestinian journalist working for Al Jazeera, was killed while covering an Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli army later admitted one of its soldiers probably shot the reporter – who was wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest marked “press” – having mistaken her for a fighter. — AFP