We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Palestinians check the car in which Mustafa Thuria and Hamza Wael Dahdouh were killed in a reported Israeli strike in Rafah Alamy Stock Photo

Israel army claims two journalists killed in Gaza strike were 'terror operatives'

Hamza Wael Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuria were killed on Sunday while they were on an assignment for Al Jazeera.

ISRAEL’S ARMY HAS claimed that two Al Jazeera journalists it killed in an air strike in Gaza were “terror operatives”.

Hamza Wael Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuria, who also worked as a video stringer for AFP and other news organisations, were killed on Sunday while they were on an assignment for the Qatar-based channel in the city of Rafah.

The army said in a statement yesterday its “intelligence has confirmed that both the deceased were members of Gaza-based terrorist organisations actively involved in attacks against IDF (army) forces”.

“Prior to the strike, the two operated drones, posing an imminent threat to IDF troops,” the army said.

There was no immediate reaction available from the television channel and families of the two men.

When asked yesterday by AFP about what kind of drones were used by the two men and the nature of the threat the drones posed to Israeli troops, the army said it was “checking”.

It said Thuria was identified in a document found by troops in Gaza to be a member of Hamas’s Gaza City Brigade, while Dahdouh was identified as a “terrorist” belonging to Islamic Jihad.

The army statement included a copy of a document it said was a list of “operatives from an electronic engineering unit of the Islamic Jihad, including Dahdouh and his military number”.

Dahdouh and Thuria were killed when the car they were travelling in was hit by two rockets on a street in Rafah, according to witnesses. A third journalist and the driver of the car were wounded.

Thuria, in his 30s, had contributed for AFP since 2019 and had also worked with other international media outlets.

He and Dahdouh had been tasked with filming the aftermath of a strike on a house in Rafah and their car was hit while they were on their way back, AFP correspondents said at the time.

Soon after the strike, Al Jazeera said it “strongly condemns the Israeli occupation forces’ targeting of the Palestinian journalists’ car”, accusing Israel of “targeting” journalists and “violating the principles of freedom of the press”.

In a brief statement, Hamas’s press office said the army’s claims were false and that Israel “creates false pretexts to justify its massacres and crimes against Palestinian civilians and journalists”.

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

On Monday, Wael’s two nephews Ahmed al-Dahdouh and Muhammad al-Dahdouh were also killed in a strike when travelling in a car in Rafah, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

Blinken in the Middle East

Soon after Dahdouh and Thuria were killed, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that their deaths were an “unimaginable tragedy”.

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

Blinken is to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, a day after talks with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmud Abbas.

Abbas ”committed” to reforming the body to potentially reunite Gaza and the occupied West Bank under its leadership after the war, Blinken said.

The conflict in Gaza erupted when Hamas militants stormed across Gaza’s border into Israel in an unprecedented attack on 7 October which left some 1,140 people dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas, denounced as a terrorist group by the US and EU, and has kept up a relentless bombing of Gaza, which the health ministry says has killed at least 23,357 people, mostly civilians.

Hamas’s press office said this morning that 62 people had been killed in strikes overnight, including around Gaza’s main southern city of Khan Yunis.

Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in his evening briefing the night before that forces were continuing “to act decisively above and below ground” in the area.

Earlier in the day, the army said that troops east of the city had found “tunnel shafts, tunnel routes, and numerous weapons and materials”, and killed “dozens of terrorists”.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said an Israeli strike on an ambulance in central Gaza killed four medics and two other passengers yesterday.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the incident when contacted by AFP.

In Deir al-Balah, also in central Gaza, people wounded in a strike at a nearby school were brought to the Al-Aqsa hospital.

“There are injured people at the school since last night, no cars or ambulances are reaching it – nothing,” Ramadan Darwit told AFP at the hospital.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 79 journalists and media professionals, the vast majority Palestinian, have been killed since the conflict began.

© AFP 2024