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Al Jazeera reporter Hamza al-Dahdouh (left) and AFP reporter Mustafa Thuraya. RSF - X

Two journalists killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza, six killed in deadly West Bank raid

One Al Jazeera reporter and an AFP reporter were reported killed.


THE HEALTH MINISTRY in Gaza said today that an Israeli air strike killed two journalists in the Palestinian territory.

Mustafa Thuria, a video stringer for AFP news agency, and Hamza Wael Dahdouh, a journalist with Al Jazeera television network, were killed while they were travelling in a car, the ministry and medics said.

Hamza’s father Wael al-Dahdouh is Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in the Gaza Strip, and was also recently wounded in a strike. He was wounded after his wife and two children were killed by a separate Israeli strike in the initial weeks of the war.

Thuria had worked with AFP since 2019.

By December 31, at least 77 journalists and media workers had been killed since the October 7 start of the war between Israel and Hamas, according to the new York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Of those 77, 70 were Palestinian, four Israeli, and three Lebanese. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) paid tribute to the two journalists on the social media site X. 

“RSF affirms its support for the families of Mustafa Thuraya and Hamza al-Dahdouh.

“Targeting reporters constitutes a war crime. In this 4th month of war 79 reporters have been killed in Gaza,” the post read. 

Al Jazeera released a statement condemning the killing and labelling it an “assassination”.

“The assassination of Mustafa and Hamza, Al Jazeera correspondent Wael Al-Dahdoh’s son, whilst they were on their way to carry out their duty in the Gaza Strip, reaffirms the need to take immediate necessary legal measures against the occupation forces to ensure that there is no impunity,”  statement said. 

The Qatar-based news agency added that it intends to take “all legal measures to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes, and stands in solidarity and support with all journalists in Gaza.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the killing as a “tragedy” while visiting Qatar today. 

“This is an unimaginable tragedy. And that’s also been the case for… far too many innocent Palestinian men, women and children,” Blinken said.

Six people were killed early today during an Israeli raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said, with witnesses reporting that Israel had also carried out air strikes in Gaza’s main southern city of Khan Yunis.

Israel said it had “dismantled” Hamas’s military leadership in northern Gaza as its war against the Palestinian group entered a fourth month today, as anti Netanyahu faced huge protests in Tel Aviv calling for his resignation yesterday. Fears are mounting that the conflict could spread into neighbouring Lebanon.

Israel’s army said late yesterday it had “completed the dismantling of the Hamas military framework in the northern Gaza Strip” and its forces would now focus on central and southern areas of the territory.

The prospect of a wider regional war loomed with army spokesman Daniel Hagari warning that Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group was “dragging Lebanon into an unnecessary war”.

The group fired more than 60 rockets at an Israeli military base on Saturday in response to this week’s killing in Beirut of Hamas’s deputy leader.

The war in Gaza was triggered by an unprecedented attack on Israel launched by Hamas on 7 October which resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

The militants also took around 250 hostages, 132 of whom remain in captivity, according to Israel. At least 24 are believed to have been killed.

In response, Israel is carrying out a relentless bombardment and ground invasion that have killed at least 22,722 people, most of them women and children, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel would continue its campaign to “eliminate Hamas, return our hostages and ensure that Gaza will no longer be a threat to Israel”.

Netanyahu was under growing pressure on yesterday with demonstrators gathering in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square to call for early elections and the resignation of his government.

“Bibi Netanyahu and all the rest of his idiots are ruining Israel and they are destroying everything we hoped and dreamed of,” Shachaf Netzer, 54, told AFP.

“Everybody here wants an election.”

AFP correspondents reported Israeli strikes on Saturday in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of people have sought shelter from the fighting.

Victims of the bombardment were brought to the European Hospital in Khan Yunis, where relatives and mourners gathered.

One of them, Mohamed Awad, wept over the body of a 12-year-old boy and counted the deaths in his family.

“My brother, his wife, his children, his relatives and the brothers of his wife — there are more than 20 martyrs,” Awad, a journalist, told AFP.

Civilians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip have borne the brunt of the conflict as the scale of the destruction has triggered mass displacement and a deepening humanitarian crisis.

With swathes of the territory reduced to rubble, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths on Friday said “Gaza has simply become uninhabitable”.

The World Health Organization says most of Gaza’s 36 hospitals have been put out of action by the fighting, while remaining medical facilities face dire shortages.

International aid group Doctors Without Borders said it had evacuated its staff from Al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza after a bullet penetrated a wall in the intensive care unit.

“The situation became so dangerous that some staff living in the neighbouring areas were not able to leave their houses because of the constant threats of drones and snipers,” said Carolina Lopez, the group’s emergency coordinator at the hospital.

Push for ceasefire

Top Western diplomats were in the region over the weekend as part of a fresh push to boost the flow of aid into Gaza and address mounting fears of a wider conflict.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Jordan today during a Middle East tour that will take him to Israel and the occupied West Bank next week.

“One of the real concerns is the border between Israel and Lebanon, and we want to do everything possible to make sure we see no escalation,” he told reporters in Greece, where he stopped before continuing to Jordan.

Blinken was due to hold talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II before heading to Qatar and Abu Dhabi later in the day.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Saturday visited Beirut, where he met a senior figure in Hezbollah’s political wing as part of efforts to avoid Lebanon being drawn into the war, an EU source confirmed.

Borrell also held talks with the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, Mohammad Raad, Lebanese media reported.

“It is imperative to avoid regional escalation in the Middle East. It is absolutely necessary to avoid Lebanon being dragged into a regional conflict,” Borrell told a news conference in Beirut.

Borrell said he would go to Saudi Arabia next to discuss “a joint EU-Arab initiative” for peace.

The Hamas-allied Hezbollah movement has been trading near-daily fire with Israeli forces since early October, and fired dozens of rockets at an Israeli military base in response to the killing of a senior Hamas figure in a suspected Israeli strike in Beirut on Tuesday.

Hezbollah said it had targeted the Israeli military’s Meron air control base with 62 missiles in its “initial response” to the killing of Saleh al-Aruri, Hamas’s deputy leader, in Beirut.

The Israeli army reported “approximately 40 launches from Lebanon” and said it struck Hezbollah “military sites” in response.

With reporting from David Mac Redmond

© Agence France-Presse