Al Jazeera journalist laments son killed in Israeli strike in Gaza: 'He was my soul'

The Israel-Hamas war is the deadliest for journalists on record.

January 10, 2024, 1:37 PM

TEL AVIV, Israel -- Al Jazeera journalist Wael Al-Dahdouh, who is a bureau chief in Gaza, is mourning the death of another family member who was killed in an Israeli airstrike but he has already returned to work in a vow to continue covering the Israel-Hamas war.

Hamzah Al-Dahdouh, Wael's 27-year-old son, was working as a freelance journalist, driving in Gaza and using a drone to capture footage, when his vehicle was hit by an Israeli airstrike on Jan. 7, according to officials.

Wael buried his son and returned to work one day later.

"Hamzah was all mine, he was my breath, and he was my soul, but certainly this loss and this pain will not stop us from continuing on this path," he told ABC News in Gaza. "And it will not deter us from continuing to perform this duty."

Israeli military officials confirmed the air strike.

PHOTO: Family and friends bid farewell to the bodies of journalists Hamza Al-Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya, Jan. 7, 2024, in Rafah, Gaza.
Family and friends bid farewell to the bodies of journalists Hamza Al-Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya, Jan. 7, 2024, in Rafah, Gaza. The journalists, Hamza Al-Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya, were reportedly killed when their car was bombed after reporting from an airstrike on a building in Gaza.
Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

In the Gaza Strip, at least 23,357 people have been killed and over 59,410 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Hamas-run Gaza.

In Israel, at least 1,200 people have been killed and 6,900 others have been injured by Hamas and other Palestinian militants since Oct. 7, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Hamzah was not the first family member Al-Dahdouh has buried since the war began after the militant group Hamas' surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that killed more than 1,000 Israelis and led to the abduction of hundreds of hostages. As well as Hamzah, Al-Dahdou's wife, one other son, a daughter, and a grandson have all been killed, yet he persists in his work reporting from the deadliest theatre of conflict for journalists in the world. Al-Dahdou himself was hospitalized after being wounded in an Israeli strike in December.

Hamzah was operating a drone in line with his work, and the use of such equipment did not make him a target, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement sent to ABC News on Tuesday. Hamzah was killed along with one other journalist, and a third was seriously injured. Israel confirmed the strike, saying they were targeting a "terrorist."

"An IDF aircraft identified and struck a terrorist who operated an aircraft that posed a threat to IDF troops," the IDF said in a statement. "We are aware of the reports that during the strike, two other suspects who were in the same vehicle as the terrorist were also hit."

Last month, responding to the death of Al Jazeera journalist Samer Abudaqa, who was also killed in Gaza, the Israeli army said "the IDF has never, and will never, deliberately target journalists."

People search for victims in a building that was destroyed during Israeli airstrikes, Jan. 7, 2024, in Rafah, Gaza.
Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

Al-Dahdouh said he believes he has been deliberately targeted, a claim Israel denies.

"It is true that the price is very high, very exorbitant, very costly, and very painful, but there is no choice [but to continue working]," he said.

Since the Oct. 7 attacks and the war in Gaza began, 79 journalists and media workers have been killed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Four of those killed were Israeli, three were Lebanese, and 72 of the total are Palestinian journalists working in Gaza.

Praying alongside mourners at his son's grave, Al-Dahdou said, "All the world needs to see what's happening here."

It is the journalists in Gaza who, under the most dangerous conditions in the world, are documenting the realities of war on the ground, Sherif Mansour, the CPJ's Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour, told ABC News.

"Our Palestinian colleagues are facing an outsized challenge and exponential risk," he said. "They are on the front lines and that makes them the most vulnerable, but also the most needed. Without them, we don't have eyes or ears on what's happening on the ground. We rely on journalists to provide timely, accurate, and independent information because press freedom is the antidote to the fog of war."

ABC News' Sami Zayara contributed to this report

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