Al Jazeera journalist Samer Abudaqa killed in Israeli attack in Gaza

Family, friends, colleagues attend funeral of cameraman who was killed in Israeli drone attack in Khan Younis.

Al Jazeera Arabic journalist Samer Abudaqa has been killed and his colleague Wael Dahdouh was wounded in an Israeli attack in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.

Cameraman Abudaqa and correspondent Dahdouh were reporting at Farhana school in Khan Younis when they were hit by an Israeli strike on Friday.

Rescue teams were unable to immediately reach Abudaqa and others at the site due to Israeli bombardment.

“Rescuers just managed to retrieve the cameraman Samer Abudaqa’s body,” a spokesperson for the media network said.

Dahdouh was hit by shrapnel on his upper arm, and managed to reach Nasser hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.

Witnesses said earlier there was heavy shelling in the area around the school.

Wael Dahdouh says the network’s crew was accompanying civil defence rescuers on a mission to evacuate a family after its home was bombed.

“We captured the devastating destruction and reached places that had not been reached by any camera lens since the Israeli ground operation started,” Dahdouh said from his hospital bed.

As the Al Jazeera journalists were heading back on foot because the areas were not accessible by car, Dahdouh said “something big” happened that knocked him to the ground.

After the explosion, Dahdouh said he pressed on his wounds and walked out of the area to get help, but by the time he reached an ambulance, medics said they could not return to the site of the attack because it was too dangerous.

Subsequent efforts to coordinate a safe passage to send rescuers for Abudaqa were delayed, Dahdouh said, adding that one ambulance that tried to reach the cameraman came under fire.

Many Palestinians from the central and northern parts of Gaza have sought shelter in Khan Younis since the war began in October. Many have now been pushed further south towards the strip’s southernmost city of Rafah after Israel intensified its military operations in Khan Younis.

The attack comes amid violent clashes between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army in locations across Gaza. Residents reported fighting in Shujayea, Sheikh Radwan, Zeitoun, Tuffah, and Beit Hanoon in north Gaza, east of Maghazi in central Gaza and in the centre and northern fringes of Khan Younis, according to the Reuters news service.

The Al Jazeera Media Network condemned the attack and extended its condolences to Abudaqa’s family in Gaza and Belgium.

“The Network holds Israel accountable for systematically targeting and killing Al Jazeera journalists and their families,” a statement read.

“In today’s bombing in Khan Younis, Israeli drones fired missiles at a school where civilians sought refuge, resulting in indiscriminate casualties,” the network said.

“Following Samer’s injury, he was left to bleed to death for over 5 hours, as Israeli forces prevented ambulances and rescue workers from reaching him, denying the much-needed emergency treatment,” the statement added.

In late October, Wael Dahdouh lost four of his family members in an Israeli air raid.

His family had been seeking refuge in Nuseirat camp in the centre of Gaza when their home was bombed by Israeli forces, killing his wife, Um Hamza, his 15-year-old son, Mahmoud, his seven-year-old daughter, Sham, and his grandson, Adam, who died in hospital hours later.

Calls for accountability

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it was “deeply saddened” and called for an independent investigation into the attack.

The press freedom group says the conflict in Gaza is the deadliest for journalists it has ever recorded.

“We’re outraged by the high price, I would say the extreme price, that Palestinian journalists are paying,” the CPJ’s Carlos Martinez de la Serna told Al Jazeera, adding that there was a “clear prevailing sense of impunity.”

“We need international, independent investigations to assess all these killings and those responsible need to be accountable,” said de la Serna. “It’s essential to remember that journalists under international humanitarian law are civilians, and the obligation on all parties involved in the war is to protect them, and what we’re seeing, is that journalists are being killed.”

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said it was “shocked” at the attack.

“We condemn the attack and reiterate our demand that journalists’ lives must be safeguarded,” it said in a post on X.

An IFJ report published last week found that 72 percent of journalists who died on the job this year were killed in the Gaza war.

‘A professional, strong team’

The two journalists have worked together with Al Jazeera Arabic since before the war.

“[Samer] and Wael make up a very professional, strong team on the ground, documenting everything and bringing all the facts and live pictures of what the Palestinian people have been going through,” Hani Mahmoud said.

“But particularly with this war, given its intensity in scale and magnitude and the sheer amount of destruction, they have been at the forefront of covering every little detail that one might have forgotten about,” he added.

Source: Al Jazeera