Al Jazeera cameraman killed in Gaza, correspondent injured

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As Wael al-Dahdouh, Al Jazeera bureau chief in Gaza, was treated for shrapnel wounds after being wounded in an Israeli drone strike Friday, he urged doctors to get to his trapped colleague.

“Samer was with me in the place,” he said, wincing in pain as doctors at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis examined him. His right arm was bandaged, his left hand smeared with blood. “Samer was screaming, Samer was screaming,” he said. “Coordinate with the Red Cross and have someone bring him!”

Cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa had been with Dahdouh on Friday when the pair traveled to cover Israel’s bombing of Farhana school in Khan Younis, which had been hosting displaced Palestinians.

But after they arrived, they were hit by a drone strike, according to Al Jazeera. Dahdouh managed to leave the area as the bombardment continued, but Abu Daqqa could not and desperately tried to crawl to safety.

Ambulances tried to reach the area, but the route was blocked by the rubble, and paramedics could not get there due to the bombing. The network reported that three civil defense workers died while trying to reach him over a period of five hours.

“Samer continued to bleed for several hours, until the Civil Defense crew found him dead,” Al Jazeera English said in an internal note Friday. Abu Daqqa, 45, was a father of four and resident of Khan Younis, the city he died covering.

The war has taken a crushing toll on Gaza’s journalists, with 56 killed since the beginning of Israel’s assault on Hamas in October, according to Reporters Without Borders. Some 13 of those have been killed while at work, while the others were killed in their homes or going about their daily lives.

Al Jazeera said that it “holds Israel accountable for systematically targeting and killing Al Jazeera journalists and their families” and urged the international community to hold Israel accountable.

Abu Daqqa is the first Al Jazeera journalist to die in the war. In October, Dahdouh lost 14 members of extended family, including his wife, Amna, his 15-year-old son Mahmoud and his 7-year-old daughter Sham, during an Israeli strike on the house in which they were sheltering. His 1½-year-old grandson was also killed. He found out about the bombing while live on air.

“This is a massacre for journalism and journalists working on the ground,” Suruq As’ad, a spokeswoman of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate based in West Bank. “They are all locals. They are targeted and their surroundings are targeted: loved ones, their neighborhoods, their cities, their friends, their offices and they go on to do their jobs as reporters, as camera people, as correspondents.”

She said that the Al Jazeera team was clearly marked as press when they traveled to cover the bombing at the school, with markings on their car and safety gear, and accused Israel of war crimes. The Israeli military did not respond to a request for a comment.

The Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem said that Abu Daqqa was its first member to be killed during the war, describing him as a “veteran cameraman.”

“We consider this a grave blow to the already limited freedom of the press in Gaza and call on the army for a prompt investigation and explanation,” it said. “The FPA repeatedly appealed to the Israeli military, which said it had approved a bulldozer to clear the road for an ambulance to reach Samer, but it appears it took hours for first responders to gain access.”

Loay Ayyoub, a photographer who works with The Washington Post, said he’d become close to Abu Daqqa during the war, as they spent time together at Nasser hospital, where the injured and the dead are endlessly ferried in.

Still, Abu Daqqa always managed to smile, he said. “Everyone loved him. At the end of each work day, we’d sit until the dawn hours and chat.”

He’d managed to get his family out of Gaza, Ayyoub said. “He always told me, ‘There is a safer place outside Gaza,’” he said.

In an interview this week, Dahdouh, renowned for his relentless coverage of the war in the face of personal tragedy, recounted his hardest moment as a reporter.

“When a journalist becomes the news instead of reporting it,” he told the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy, strapped into his blue press flak jacket as he referred to the devastating deaths of his family members. “And instead of getting the image and broadcasting it, he becomes the image.”

Less than 24 hours after he posted a clip of the interview on his Instagram feed, Dahdouh was part of the story again.

And the same press vest was stained with blood.

Hazem Balousha in Amman, Miriam Berger in Jerusalem and Niha Masih in Seoul contributed to this report.

Israel-Gaza war

Israeli soldiers fighting in Gaza mistakenly shot dead three Israeli hostages, the IDF said. Follow the latest news on the Israel-Gaza war.

A U.S. intelligence assessment has found almost half of the munitions Israel has used in Gaza since the war began have been unguided bombs, a ratio that some arms experts say helps explain the conflict’s enormous civilian death toll.

Hostages: More than 100 held in the Gaza Strip have been released. Here’s what we know about those released by Hamas so far.

Oct. 7 attack: Hamas spent more than a year planning its assault on Israel. A Washington Post video analysis shows how Hamas exploited vulnerabilities created by Israel’s reliance on technology at the “Iron Wall,” the security barrier around the Gaza Strip, to carry out the deadliest attack in Israel’s history. Traders earned millions of dollars anticipating the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, a study found.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has a complicated history. Understand what’s behind the Israel-Gaza war and see the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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