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Israel strike kills family of reporter after false claims

Israel strike kills family of Gaza journalist after false October 7 claims
3 min read
20 November, 2023
After being falsely accused of having prior knowledge of the events of October 7 by a pro-Israel advocacy group, a Gazan photographer's house was hit by an Israeli strike, killing 8 of his family members.
Israel has been accused of targeting journalists in Gaza [Getty]

Deadly strikes hit the Gaza home of a news photographer days after an Israeli media advocacy group questioned his coverage of Hamas' October 7 attack, prompting death threats against him on social media.

Yasser Qudih, who survived the strikes on the night of November 13, said four projectiles hit the rear of his house, killing eight family members.

The attack came five days after the November 8 report by HonestReporting, which is a self-defined pro-Israel monitor group that claims to expose "anti-Israel bias" in the media, questioning whether Qudih, a freelance photographer, and three other Gaza-based photographers had prior knowledge of the events of October 7. 

Reuters strongly denied HonestReporting's speculation, as did other international news organisations identified in the report.

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Qudih had provided photos to Reuters during the October 7 attack although he was not a staff photographer.

Qudih said he had returned home barely an hour before the strikes on his house which were seconds apart, and without warning, at around 7:50 p.m. (1750 GMT).

"Israel attacked my home," he said. Asked why, he added: "I don't know."

In a statement, Reuters said it was "deeply saddened "to learn of the deaths of Qudih's family members. It also said HonestReporting made "baseless accusations" against Qudih.

"Thereafter, numerous threats against his safety circulated online. HonestReporting later accepted that its accusations were unfounded," Reuters said.

"The situation on the ground is dire, and the IDF's unwillingness to give assurances about the safety of our staff threatens their ability to deliver news about this conflict without fear of being injured or killed."

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Two-storey house

HonestReporting's Nov. 8 report prompted the Israeli prime minister's office to say the journalists were accomplices in "crimes against humanity". Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz suggested they should be treated as terrorists and hunted down, and a former Israeli envoy to the United Nations, Danny Danon, said they should be "eliminated".

After issuing its report, HonestReporting's executive director, Gil Hoffman, told Reuters on November 10 that his organisation accepted as "adequate" statements by Reuters and other media organisations cited in its report that they had no previous knowledge of the attack.

HonestReporting did not respond to requests for comment on the attack on Qudih's home. Requests were submitted by Reuters to HonestReporting on Thursday.

In a reply to Reuters on Thursday, Danon, a member of Israel's governing Likud party, reiterated his initial remark when asked about the strikes on Qudih's home.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement that the Israeli military follows international law and takes "feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm".

Gantz's office did not respond to a request for comment. Hamas did not comment on the attack on Qudih's home.

Qudih told Reuters he lived in a two-storey house that was home to only him and his immediate and extended family. About 20 people were at home during the strikes, which left a large crater in a yard behind the house and destroyed one side of the building.

The director of Nasser Hospital, the main hospital serving the area where Qudih lived, confirmed to Reuters that the names and ages of the eight family members killed were listed among the dead registered with the hospital.