Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief returned to air less than 24 hours after his family was killed in what the television network said was an Israeli airstrike on Wednesday.
Wael Al Dahdouh lost his wife, son, daughter, and grandson when a blast hit a house in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza where the family was taking shelter after being displaced, according to the news organization.
Al Dahdouh thanked viewers for their messages and calls following his family’s tragedy. “The solidarity and prayers were certainly something very important for us but we thought it was necessary to return quickly despite everything,” he said.
“The area is still burning, as you can see, from the raids and artillery bombardment. I saw that it was my duty, despite the pain and the bleeding wound, to return quickly and to meet you through the camera lens and social networking sites,” he added.
In an on-air message on Wednesday, the Qatari-funded news network wrote that “Members of the family of our colleague Wael Al Dahdouh, including his wife, son, and daughter, were martyred in an Israeli bombing.”
Al Jazeera reported Al Dahdouh’s grandson Adam was declared dead two hours later.
An emotional Al Dahdouh was seen in a video crying as he stood over his son’s body, wrapped in a white sheet. The distraught journalist was also seen carrying the small body of his grandson through al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Gaza.
His son Mahmoud was 15 years old, and his daughter Sham was seven years old, Al Jazeera reported.
Al Jazeera anchor Abdisalam Farah announced the deaths on air, visibly struggling to keep his composure and tearing up.
Twelve members of the Al Dahdouh family were killed on Wednesday, including 9 children, a statement by the family said.
The Al Dahdouh family were displaced from Tal El Hawa to Nuseirat refugee camp, which they thought would be a safe place for them to stay, Al Jazeera’s office in Ramallah told CNN.
CNN cannot independently confirm the source of the blast at the house, and Al Jazeera did not provide evidence linking it directly to an Israeli strike. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed to CNN that it carried out an airstrike in an area of Gaza where Al-Dahdouh’s relatives were killed on Wednesday. The IDF said that it was targeting “Hamas terrorist infrastructure.”
“Strikes on military targets are subject to relevant provisions of international law, including the taking of feasible precautions to mitigate civilian casualties. Regarding this specific case, the IDF targeted Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the area,” the IDF said in a statement.
Israel’s leadership has vowed to wipe out Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, in response to its October 7 deadly terror attacks and kidnap rampage in which 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were killed and more than 200 taken hostage.
Its weeks-long siege on Gaza has resulted in a humanitarian crisis inside the enclave, now cut off from the world by a near-total blockade, say aid groups. Israeli airstrikes have decimated entire neighborhoods, leveling homes, schools, and mosques.
CNN drone footage from Monday showed the level of destruction across parts of the strip, with whole streets flattened in the al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City and a row of destroyed buildings known as al-Zahra towers in central Gaza.
More than 6,400 people have been killed and a further 17,000 injured in Israel’s sustained aerial bombardment of the crowded enclave, according to latest figures from the Hamas-controlled health authorities in Gaza published by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah.
Advocacy groups condemned the death of Al Dahdouh’s family members on Wednesday. The International Press Institute (IPI) called it “horrifying and outrageous news,” in a statement. “We condemn the killing of civilians and offer our deepest condolences to Wael Dahdouh.”
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 24 journalists have died since the start of this conflict as of Wednesday. Twenty of those killed are Palestinian, three are Israeli, and one is a Lebanese journalist, CPJ said.
The figure includes Palestinian journalist Roshdi Sarraj, according to Palestinian press agency WAFA, which said he was killed in an Israeli airstrike.
Sarraj was a fixer at French national public radio broadcaster Radio France and had been working with its correspondents since May 2021, according to Radio France.
When CNN reached out to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for comment on Sarraj’s death, it said on Monday that “in stark contrast to Hamas’ intentional attacks on Israeli men, women and children, the IDF follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm.”
CNN’s Mihir Melwani, Pierre Meilhan, Oliver Darcy and Sophie Jeong contributed to this report.
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