Israeli strike on school kills Al Jazeera cameraman in southern Gaza

AP , Saturday 16 Dec 2023

An Israeli strike killed a Palestinian cameraman for the TV network Al Jazeera and wounded its chief Gaza correspondent late Friday as they reported at a school-shelter in the south of the besieged territory, the network said.

Samer Abu Daqa
People mourn over the body of Al Jazeera cameraman Samer Abu Daqa, who was killed during Israeli bombardment, during his funeral in Khan Yunis on the southern Gaza Strip on December 16, 2023. Photo: AFP


Cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa and correspondent Wael Dahdouh had gone to the school in the southern city of Khan Younis after it was hit by a strike earlier in the day. While they were there, an Israeli drone hit the school with a second strike, the network said.

Dahdouh was heavily wounded in his arm and shoulder, while Abu Daqqa fell bleeding to the ground.

Speaking from a hospital bed, Dahdouh told Al Jazeera he was able to flee, bleeding, from the school and found several ambulance workers. He asked them to look for Abu Daqqa, but they said it was too risky and promised another ambulance would come for him, Dahdouh said.

“He was screaming, he was calling for help,” said Dahdouh, his right arm heavily bandaged.

Later that evening, Al Jazeera reported that an ambulance tried to reach the school to evacuate Abu Daqqa, but it had to turn back because roads were blocked by the rubble of destroyed houses.

Abu Daqqa continued to bleed for several more hours, until a civil defense crew found him dead, the network said in a statement.

Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour told a General Assembly meeting on the war that Israel “targets those who could document (their) crimes and inform the world, the journalists.”

“We mourn one of those journalists, Samer Abu Daqqa, wounded in an Israeli drone strike and left to bleed to death for 6 hours while ambulances were prevented from reaching him,” Mansour said.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Abu Daqqa is the 64th journalist to be killed since the Israeli war on Gaza: 57 Palestinians, four Israelis and three Lebanese journalists.

The 45-year-old Abu Daqqa, a Khan Younis native, joined Al Jazeera in June 2004, working as both a cameraman and an editor. He leaves behind a daughter and three sons.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents several hundred journalists working for international news organizations in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, said it grieves the death of Abu Daqqa, a longtime member.

“He is the first FPA member to be killed in Gaza in the war,” the organization said in a statement. “We consider this a grave blow to the already limited freedom of the press in Gaza and call on the army for a prompt investigation and explanation.”

Qatari-owned Al Jazeera said in a statement that it holds Israel “accountable for systematically targeting and killing Al Jazeera journalists and their families.”

In late October, Dahdouh’s wife, son, daughter and grandchild were killed in an Israelo strike on the home where they were sheltering in central Gaza.

The network at the time accused Israel of intentionally targeting his family.

Dahdouh is well known as the face of Palestinians during many wars. He is revered in his native Gaza for telling stories of suffering and hardship to the outside world.

Earlier this month, a strike killed the father, mother and 20 other family members of another Al Jazeera correspondent, Momen Al Sharafi.

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