Dec. 16: Al Jazeera’s journalist Samer Abudaqa has been killed in an Israeli drone attack in Khan Younis; medical teams were prevented by Israeli forces from immediately reaching him. He bled out for around six hours as Israeli forces repeatedly stopped ambulances and medical teams from trying to rescue him.
Wael al Dahdouh, the seniormost Al Jazeera journalist and their network bureau chief in Gaza was also shot at in his hands and was able to walk to safer ground to get treated. Al Dahdouh has previously lost his family members – wife, son, daughter and grandson – in an Israeli strike in October. Attempts to rescue Abudaqa were stalled repeatedly also because the route was blocked off due to debris of damaged building.
Samer Abudaqa had been working as a cameraman and video editor with Al Jazeera in Gaza since 2004. A native of Khan Younis, he is survived by his daughter and three sons. His family lives in Belgium.
A video dated last year circulating on social media showed a happy Abudaqa meeting his family in Belgium for the first time in five years. He refused to leave Gaza despite the danger and hoped that his family too would be able to return to Gaza someday.
In a statement released by Al Jazeera, they urged the international community, media freedom organisations, and the International Criminal Court to take immediate action to hold the Israeli government and military accountable for these acts of carnage and crimes against humanity:
“Al Jazeera Media Network condemns in the strongest terms the Israeli drone attack on a Gaza school that resulted in the killing of cameraman Samer Abudaqa… Following Samer’s injury, he was left to bleed to death for over 5 hours, as Israeli forces prevented ambulances and rescue workers from reaching him, denying the much-needed emergency treatment. Al Jazeera Media Network extends its sincere condolences to the family in Gaza and in Belgium of the late colleague Samer Abudaqa. With the killing of Samer Abudaqa number of journalists and media workers killed in Gaza reached over 90.”
The network said that it held Israel responsible for the killing and targeting of Al Jazeera journalists and their families.
Abudaqa is the latest in the long list of martyred journalists who have often been directly targeted by Israeli strikes along with their families.
Jonathan Dagher, head of the Middle East desk at Reporters Without Borders (RSF), says the Israeli attack that injured and killed the Al Jazeera Arabic journalist “is an unacceptable attack against brave journalists who are covering the conflict in Khan Younis”.
This comes in a week where an Anadolu Ajansi photojournalist, Mustafa Alkharouf was violently attacked by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem. The incident occurred as a group of Palestinians gathered in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood near the Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray, amid restrictions imposed by the Israeli army on Friday prayers at the mosque. Israeli forces pulled their weapons at Alkharouf, throwing him to the ground, and beating and kicking him. He later had to go to Makassed Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem.
The Foreign Press Association, which represents several journalists working for international news organisations, said it grieved the death of Abudaqa, a longtime member. “He is the first FPA member to be killed in Gaza in the war,” the organisation said in a statement.
According to CAIR, “Because Israel is denying western journalists safe and regular access to Gaza, local journalists like Wael Al-Dahdouh and Samer Abudaqa are the only sources of independent reporting on the impact of the Israeli government’s war crimes. This is why Israel keeps targeting them.”
Abudaqa and al Dahdouh were covering the Israeli attack on the school in Khan Younis when the attack happened. Al Dahdouh returned to reporting on Saturday, with bandages on his hand and both arms. He paid tribute to his colleague and friend Abudaqa at the burial.
In news emerging on Saturday, journalist Assem Kamal Musa was martyred in an Israeli bombing in Khan Younis. This brings the total number of journalists killed by the Israeli army to 91 martyred journalists since the beginning of the genocide.