Israel walks back 'terrorist' claims in killing of Wael Dahdouh's journalist son

Israel walks back 'terrorist' claims in killing of Wael Dahdouh's journalist son
Israel's army has backtracked on claims it made about the killing of journalists Hamza Wael Dahdouh and Mustafa Abu Thuraya.
2 min read
09 January, 2024
Hamza Wael Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya were killed while driving back to Rafah after reporting on an Israeli airstrike in the enclave [Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu via Getty Images]

The Israeli army has backtracked on claims that it had killed a "terrorist" when it struck a car carrying journalists Hamza Wael Dahdouh and Mustafa Abu Thuraya in the southern city of Rafah on Sunday.

During questioning over the incident by NBC News reporters, Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari described the incident, in which both journalists were killed, as "unfortunate".

Hagari claimed the army targeted their vehicle due to their alleged use of a drone.

"And using a drone in a war zone, it's a problem. It looks like the terrorists," Hagari said, adding that the military was investigating the incident and that "will provide the data".

Al Jazeera, the news agency that Dahdouh and Thuraya were reporting for, condemned the killings as an "assassination".

Mohammed Moawad, Al Jazeera's managing editor, told NBC News that Thuraya was a drone operator for the network and had been filming the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike. He added that he was not flying the drone as they drove back to Rafah.

Following the strike on Dahdouh and Thuraya, Israel had claimed that an aircraft "identified and struck a terrorist who operated an aircraft in a way that put IDF forces at risk".

Dahdouh, the son of Al Jazeera's Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh, is the fifth member of his family to be killed by Israel since 7 October with the veteran journalist's wife, two children, and grandchild killed in an Israeli strike.

According to Gaza's government media office, 110 journalists have been killed by Israel since 7 October, along with 23,210 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians.

The UN has said that the killing of Dahdouh and Thuraya "must be thoroughly, independently investigated to ensure strict compliance with international law, and violations prosecuted".

Israel has also detained Palestinian journalists, including the Gaza bureau chief of The New Arab's Arabic language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Diaa al-Kahlout, who was released on Tuesday after weeks in detention.