Palestinian Al Jazeera journalist Wael Dahdouh’s son killed in Israeli strike, but vows to persevere

The journalist became a well-known figure outside the region after he learned during a live broadcast in October that his wife, 15-year old son, 7-year old daughter and grandson had been killed in an Israeli airstrike on Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. Stunning many viewers, he returned to the airwaves the next day.

In December, Dahdouh sustained injuries and his cameraman was killed in a drone strike as the pair were covering the aftermath of an airstrike on a school in southern Gaza.

Dahdouh has been the face of his network’s 24/7 coverage of the war, and has become a household name among Arab viewers for his relentless reporting despite his family’s loss.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken described Hamza’s death as “an unimaginable tragedy” in comments Sunday.

“I am deeply, deeply sorry for the almost unimaginable loss suffered by your colleague Wael al-Dahdouh. I am a parent myself. I can’t begin to imagine the horror that he’s experienced, not once, but now twice,” he said during a joint news conference with the Qatari prime minister on his diplomatic tour of the region. Al Jazeera is funded by Qatar.

A crippling 17-year blockade on Gaza imposed by Israel and backed by Egypt has largely shut out the foreign press, leaving Palestinian journalists in Gaza to document their community’s stories.

But the news of Hamza’s death underscored the dangers that come with that burden.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an American nonprofit group, has accused the Israeli military of targeting journalists and their families in Gaza, which Israel denies. The CPJ says 72 Palestinian journalists have been confirmed dead in the conflict since Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel.

Reporters without Borders, a nongovernmental organization that monitors censorship in the press, said the news of Sunday’s strike marked “a never-ending slaughter.”

“Israel must be held accountable for this eradication of journalism in Gaza,” Christophe Deloire, the organization’s secretary general, said in a post on X.

The United Nations human rights office said in a social media post on Monday that it was “very concerned” by the high death toll of Palestinian media workers since hostilities began. It called for all such killings, including those of Hamza and Thuraya, to be “thoroughly, independently investigated to ensure strict compliance with international law, and violations prosecuted.”

Hamza Al-Dahdouh the son of Al-Jazeera correspondent Wael Al
Hamza Dahdouh aiding his wounded sisters inside Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, southern Gaza, on Oct. 26.Ahmed Zakot / SOPA / LightRocket via Getty Images

“Journalists are facing a massacre, a bloodbath in Gaza,” Dahdouh said as he reflected on his son’s death to NBC News.

He added that the global silence and lack of protection for journalists on the ground in Gaza, “hurts us more than the killing itself.”

“We are not a part in any conflict. We have a duty the world has promised to protect and we demand the entire world to guarantee the safety of the Palestinian journalists. We hope that Hamza’s killing is the last killing that happens,” Dahdouh said.

Keeping to his words, the grieving father was soon back on TV to report once more.