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Family of Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief killed in airstrike

Family of Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief killed in airstrike

Wael Dahdouh has been a steady face of wartime news out of Gaza for Al Jazeera Arabic viewers. But on Wednesday night, his work turned personal when he learned that the strikes he had covered from the ground all day had claimed the lives of his wife, teenage son, daughter and grandson.

Al Jazeera, the Qatari-owned news channel for which Dahdouh works, said the journalist’s family was killed in an Israeli strike on the Nuseirat refugee camp. The Israeli military said it was “checking on” the reports.

“He reported on that strike earlier, without knowing that some family members were among the dead in that Israeli bombing,” Wajd Waqfi, Al Jazeera Arabic’s senior White House correspondent, said in a post on the social media platform X.

The Al Jazeera Media Network said in a statement that the network “strongly condemns the indiscriminate targeting and killing of innocent civilians in Gaza, which has led to the loss of Wael Al-Dahdouh’s family and countless others.”

The Washington Post could not independently verify the source of the strike.

On Wednesday, Al Jazeera broadcast video of Dahdouh in his press vest walking through the halls of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, blinking back tears and flanked by other members of the press who held and guided him. He was brought to a tent filled with body bags, including those of his son. In the footage, he looks down, throws up his arms and crouches down to embrace the dead body of his son Mahmoud.

“You take your revenge by killing our kids?” Dahdouh said, weeping and touching the face of his son, in a video published by Al Jazeera. His son wanted to be a journalist like his father, the outlet reported.

Other images and footage showed him holding up the body of his 7-year-old daughter, Sham, whose face was bloodied.

Some of Dahdouh’s other family members are being treated in the hospital, Al Jazeera reported, adding that his son Yehia underwent an emergency procedure in a hospital corridor.

Dahdouh’s family had left northern Gaza after Israel ordered more than 1 million Palestinians in Gaza to leave the area ahead of an expected ground invasion. They moved to Nuseirat, which is among the areas Israel said would be considered safe zones.

Al Jazeera correspondent Youmna Elsayed said it was “heartbreaking” to report on Dahdouh’s family and “to see how broken” he is.

“Wael was always a strong man,” Elsayed said. “We all turn to him when we’re in tragedy or not feeling safe. He calms everyone, speaks to us like a big brother and not just a bureau chief.”

Other journalists broke down on-air when reporting on the killing of Dahdouh’s family members.

Last week, Israel’s government approved emergency regulations that could allow it to shut down Al Jazeera’s local offices on the basis of damaging national security.

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In an interview with his outlet just hours after he found out his family was killed, Dahdouh said “No one is safe from the aggression and treachery of the occupation.”

Even so, his colleagues say they expect Dahdouh will continue reporting, Al Jazeera reported. And in his interview, Dahdouh seemed committed to continuing to broadcast what was happening in Gaza.

“When we carry out our duties, we do it to the fullest with high professionalism — in the middle of bodies and the injured, and in the middle of destruction,” Dahdouh said. “We work [so that] everything that takes place on the ground, we capture, without any fabrication or without even exaggerating.”

Marwan Bishara, a senior political analyst at Al Jazeera, pointed out on the channel that Dahdouh, who has worked as an Al Jazeera journalist covering Gaza for about two decades, “lives in the midst of death and mayhem and destruction.”

“Listening to him, you would expect a man so angry to be cursing, but he’s not,” Bishara said. “His revenge is to tell the truth.”

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