Accessibility links

Breaking News

Al Jazeera Journalist Killed in Gaza Strike


Smoke rises from the town of Khan Younis after Israeli strikes, Dec. 15, 2023.
Smoke rises from the town of Khan Younis after Israeli strikes, Dec. 15, 2023.

One Al Jazeera journalist was killed and another was injured Friday by a missile fired in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, according to media reports.

Al Jazeera cameraperson Samer Abudaqa was killed by a missile fired from a drone, and Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh was injured.

Abudaqa was wounded on the floor of a school in Khan Younis, according to Reuters. He was hit by shrapnel, but Al Jazeera reported that paramedics were unable to immediately reach him because of Israeli shelling.

Efforts to arrange safe passage for Abudaqa took over five hours. Once medics finally arrived, the journalist had died.

“Medical teams were prevented by Israeli forces from immediately reaching him,” said Al Jazeera’s breaking news alert about the journalist's death.

Abudaqa joined Al Jazeera in 2004. Born in 1978, he was the father of three boys and a girl.

Dahdouh, whose injuries were considered minor, was transferred to Nasser Hospital.

Dahdouh’s injury came about six weeks after several of his family members — including his wife and children — were killed in an Israeli airstrike that hit their house in the Nuseirat camp in central Gaza. Dahdouh returned to reporting soon after the tragedy.

Before Abudaqa’s death, U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Friday, “It is critical that journalists be able to do their work free from violent attacks, free from violence.”

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on Friday offered condolences to Abudaqa’s family and to his Al Jazeera colleagues.

Kirby also expressed sympathy to “journalists around the world who are mourning this loss,” saying, “We know it's a heavy loss indeed.”

Underscoring the need for reporters and photographers to be able to cover conflict safely and noting their vital work, Kirby said, “It’s never acceptable to deliberately target them.”

He said the U.S. has been in touch with Israeli counterparts daily and has no “indication that they are deliberately targeting journalists.”

Press freedom groups denounced the attack.

In a statement posted to X, the International Federation of Journalists said, “We condemn the attack and reiterate our demand that journalists’ lives must be safeguarded.”

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately reply to VOA’s email requesting comment.

As of Friday, before Abudaqa’s death, at least 63 journalists had been killed while covering the Israel-Hamas war, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That death toll included 56 Palestinians, four Israelis and three Lebanese.

Over 2,300 groups and journalists have signed a letter protesting the high number of journalist deaths in the war.

Among those killed was Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah, who was killed by an Israeli strike while reporting in southern Lebanon on October 13.

Reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reuters and Agence France-Presse from earlier this month found that the attack, which also injured six other journalists, was likely deliberate. Israel denies that it targets reporters.

The devastation wrought by the war has underscored the vital role that journalists play, according to Maya Gebeily, the Reuters bureau chief for Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

“They are a crucial voice for the civilians who are deeply affected, whose lives are being torn apart by that kind of violence,” Gebeily told VOA.

“When you have journalists who are there, who are providing these live feeds, it just makes accountability that much more possible,” Gebeily added.

VOA’s Cristina Caicedo Smit contributed to this report.

  • 16x9 Image

    VOA News

    The Voice of America provides news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of over 326 million people. Stories with the VOA News byline are the work of multiple VOA journalists and may contain information from wire service reports.