Above photo: Al Jazeera correspondent Wael el-Dahdouh cries as he holds one of his family members who were killed after an Israeli airstrike on a building in Nuseirat, in the Central Gaza Strip, on October 25, 2023. Omar Ashtawy/APA Images.
Days after Blinken demands the channel’s coverage be ‘toned down.’
Al-Jazeera Bureau Chief Wael El-Dahdouh was reporting live in Gaza when an Israeli airstrike killed his wife and two children. Now, other journalists also fear their families could be targeted solely for them doing their job.
Wael El-Dahdouh, Al-Jazeera Bureau Chief in Gaza, was reporting live when an Israeli airstrike targeted the southern Gaza building where his family sheltered, killing his wife, son, daughter, and grandson.
The news came hours after Axios reported that Secretary Antony Blinken told U.S. Jewish leaders he asked Qatar to “turn down the volume on Al Jazeera’s coverage” of the Israeli genocidal campaign in the Gaza Strip, accusing the network of being “anti-Israel.”
Mondoweiss reached out to journalists in Gaza who shared their anxiety that their families could fall victim to punitive shelling solely for doing their job. “I’ve started to feel that I’m a danger to those around me,” one journalist confessed. “I was feeling this from the beginning of the war, since my voice started being heard… There are so many innocents around me, people that have nothing to do with me or my writings or my work.”
The journalist, who remained anonymous for fear of retaliation, said, “Targeting someone’s family is more painful than targeting that person only.” “Maybe,” he added, “this is the message they want to send to every journalist: ‘you aren’t the only one we will target; we can burn your heart by targeting your family and robbing you of the will to live afterward.’”
Earlier today, Mohammed Farra, another Palestinian journalist, received the news that his wife and children were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Khan Yunis, while he was positioned in Ramallah, many miles and checkpoints away from Gaza.
“Any person whose voice is being heard or is gaining international visibility is being made to pay the price,” the journalist in Gaza told Mondoweiss. “You can feel the intense surveillance of anything coming out of Gaza. And if anyone says anything, even a phrase or a word, that Israel doesn’t want, will be targeted and have their families targeted.”
This testimony is consistent with the targeting of students, activists, and everyday social media users across occupied Jerusalem and 1948 territories and charging them for incitement over their social media posts.
Since October 7, the Israeli regime has killed 20 Palestinian journalists in Gaza and one Lebanese journalist in the south of Lebanon.
El-Dahdouh, a veteran reporter, was recorded kneeling on the floor, caressing the bloodied face of his 15-year-old son, Mahmoud, who had aspired to become a journalist. “They are exacting their revenge by killing our children,” Dahdouh said, surrounded by a crew of his peers. Other members of his family remain under the rubble.
During Mondoweiss‘s conversation with the journalist from Gaza, he recalled an English video that Dahdouh’s late children had just made and shared online. “They described what was going on in Gaza. They talked about how entire neighborhoods have been destroyed and how nowhere is safe. They asked what international law and human rights had to say about this. And they ended their video with a message: ‘Help us to stay alive.’ And the world failed them.”
In Qatar, an Al Jazeera anchor cried as he broke the news that his colleague’s entire family had been killed in aerial bombardments of the Nuseirat refugee camp, in the heart of the besieged Strip, where Dahdouh and his family were sheltering.
The family was displaced from the north of Gaza after their neighborhood was bombarded, alongside 1.4 million Palestinians who were forced to flee their homes after threats made by the Israeli military that those remaining in the north of the enclave might be “treated as members of a terrorist organization.” “Your presence in Gaza valley increases your chances of death,” said the thousands of leaflets dropped over Gaza from Israeli warplanes.
It has been reported that 43% of the buildings in the Strip have been damaged or destroyed by Israeli shelling. “This is the ‘safe’ area that the occupation army spoke of,” El-Dahdouh told media outside of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir el-Balah.
“[Dahdouh’s children] were trying to make their voices heard and to expose Israel’s crimes. In honesty, this terrifies me. Right now my voice is reaching people and I get a huge number of replies from Israelis to posts on Twitter. They attack me personally and say that they haven’t even begun,” the journalist in Gaza told Mondoweiss.
Al-Jazeera Media Network condemned “the indiscriminate assault by the Israeli occupation forces resulted in the tragic loss of [Dahdouh’s] wife, son and daughter, while the rest of his family is buried under the rubble.”
At the end of the conversation, the anonymous journalist told Mondoweiss, “If the price of adhering to your professional duty or journalistic duty in Gaza means losing your entire family, then I feel it won’t be long before most journalists have left their jobs for the sake of their family’s safety.”
“I’m starting to think that maybe I really do pose a danger to their lives, and to my life as well, but like I told you, when you lose your life, you don’t feel it. I don’t know, I really don’t know.”