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May 29, 2024

Israeli Airstrike in Gaza Kills Two Journalists, Including Veteran Reporter’s Son

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Jan 8, 2024

An Israeli airstrike on January 7th targeted a vehicle in Gaza City, killing two Palestinian journalists – Hamza al-Dahdouh, the son of veteran Al Jazeera reporter Wael al-Dahdouh, and photojournalist Hassan Eslayeh. The attack has drawn widespread condemnation from press freedom organizations and calls for an independent investigation.

Strike Hits Car Carrying Journalists

According to the Israeli military, the strike targeted militants involved in operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). An Israeli military spokesman claimed the two journalists were knowingly traveling with a commander of the Islamic Jihad militant group and “posed a threat” due to the car carrying drone equipment.

The Gaza Health Ministry and Al Jazeera have disputed this account, stating the victims were civilian journalists with no ties to any armed groups. Al Jazeera said the strike contradicted “Israeli claims that the army does not target journalists,” while press groups described it as a deliberate attack on Palestinian media.

“There can be no justification whatsoever for targeting journalists or media outlets. Doing so constitutes a gross violation of international human rights law,” said Claudio Cordone of Amnesty International.

The strike came days after the Israeli military warned Gaza media offices could be targeted in attacks aimed at eliminating militants. It follows years of tension between Israel and Al Jazeera over the network’s reporting in Gaza.

Hamza al-Dahdouh Among Five Family Members Killed

The slain journalist Hamza al-Dahdouh was the son of Wael al-Dahdouh, a longtime correspondent for Al Jazeera based in Gaza. The death comes just two years after Wael lost his 12-year-old daughter and wife in an Israeli airstrike during heavy fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants.

Hamza was his father’s assistant and worked closely with him. His death means five members of the al-Dahdouh’s family have now been killed during violence over the last 15 years. The veteran journalist delivered a tearful condemnation of the strike, saying his son “wasn’t carrying a weapon” and calling his blood “the light of the press camera.”

“I wish this was the last bloodshed in the area,” said al-Dahdouh. “No parent should lose their child.”

The deaths have highlighted the extreme risks faced by Gazan journalists working to document the conflict. At least 31 reporters have been killed there since 2000 according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Outrage and Calls for Probe into Strike

The Israeli strike drew swift condemnation from several nations, including the White House which termed it “deeply disturbing.” Press groups labelled the attack an ‘assassination’ and potential war crime. Some like Reporters Without Borders have called for the International Criminal Court to investigate.

“These direct attacks on media workers not participating directly in hostilities constitute war crimes,” said Christian Mihr, Executive Director of Reporters Without Borders Germany.

The International Federation of Journalists and Palestinian Journalists Syndicate have demanded an independent probe that could establish whether the strike deliberately targeted journalists. However, critics argue previous investigations have fallen short, with calls for the International Criminal Court to get involved.

“Prior investigations have only served to whitewash war crimes against Palestinian journalists,” said Sherine Tadros of Amnesty International. “Only an ICC investigation can ensure accountability and end the systematic killing of journalists in Palestine.”

Some also fear the impacts long-term. They warn the strike deepens restrictions already faced by Gazan journalists and creates a climate where media has limited freedom to operate.

Escalating Violence and Instability

The strike comes amid some of the worst violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza since 2021. Over 30 Palestinians have died in airstrikes over the last week, which Israel says target Islamic Jihad militants it blames for rocket attacks.

However, the deaths of civilians and damage to infrastructure has led to wider turmoil. On Sunday, a general strike brought Gaza to a standstill for several hours, with shops shuttered in protest over the rising death toll.

Ongoing clashes also threaten to undo the fragile ceasefire established in 2021. The UN Special Envoy has attempted to mediate between the sides after Islamic Jihad threatened renewed rocket attacks following the strike. But with little progress so far, the risk of heavier fighting looms.

“Everyone is bracing for what comes next,” said local Gaza City resident Rania Aloul. “People fear this is just the beginning.”

Some Middle East experts fear a repeat of the intense 11-day conflict in 2021, which killed over 240 Palestinians and 12 Israelis. With tensions high, they warn the violence could rapidly escalate over the coming week.

“Such strikes often draw reprisals against Israeli cities in turn,” said Brookings Institute Analyst Omar Shaban. “Without urgent measures to deescalate, Gaza risks sliding into another devastating war.”

Day Palestinian Deaths Israeli Deaths
Jan 1-6 2024 31 0
May 2021 (11 days) 240 12

International Response and Analysis

The strike has focused attention on Israel’s conduct during counter-militancy operations. Rights groups argue strikes killing civilians show inadequate precautions by Israeli forces. Others also fear civilians pay the price during assassinations of militant commanders.

“Israel has a responsibility under international law to ensure attacks are proportionate,” said Agnes Callamard, head of Amnesty International. These strikes killing reporters raise concerns over respect for the laws of war.”

However, some analysts argue civilian casualties are inevitable when militants operate in urban areas like Gaza City. They say groups who embed themselves within towns put civilians at risk in any counter-attacks.

“Hamas and Islamic Jihad cynically operate near civilians precisely to deter Israeli strikes,” argues Israeli commentator Ben-Dror Yemini. “This tragic situation will only change once they end this strategy.”

But there are also hopes the strike could be a turning point. The White House has urged restraint from both militant groups and Israeli forces. Egypt and Qatar are also attempting to mediate a return to the 2021 ceasefire amid the turmoil. Some suggest the deaths of high-profile journalists could spur intensified diplomatic efforts.

“The possibility of progress rests on the outrage over the strike,” said ICG Analyst Hady Amr. ”World powers cannot ignore the killing of reporters and must act to avoid the situation deteriorating.”

With funerals for both slain journalists attended by thousands, the outrage certainly exists both locally and internationally. What remains uncertain is whether calls for change translate into tangible action by diplomats that stabilizes Gaza. For now, local journalists fear what new tragedies tomorrow could bring.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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