New York, May 19, 2021 — The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned the killing of Palestinian journalist Yousef Abu Hussein in Gaza and called on Israeli authorities to immediately clarify whether they deliberately struck his home.
At dawn today, an Israeli warplane bombed the top floors of the Gaza City apartment building where Abu Hussein, a reporter and news anchor for the Hamas-affiliated radio station Voice of Al-Aqsa, lived with his family, according to news reports, the journalist’s employer, and statements by the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the MADA press freedom organization. The journalist was killed in the blast, which injured his wife and brother, according to those reports. CPJ could not immediately determine whether anyone else was killed in the attack.
On May 12, Israeli warplanes bombed and destroyed the Al-Shorouk building in Gaza City, which housed a number of media outlets including Voice of Al-Aqsa Radio, as CPJ documented at the time. The station has continued broadcasting following the destruction of its office.
“In light of Israel’s earlier destruction of the building that housed Voice of Al-Aqsa Radio, we cannot completely discount the possibility that Yousef Abu Hussein was targeted in his home because of his work,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative, Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Israeli authorities must explain why they bombed the home of a journalist, a civilian who was protected under international law. The Israeli military must ensure that its operations in Gaza do not harm journalists or news outlets.”
CPJ emailed the Israeli Defense Force’s North America desk for comment and provided information including the neighborhood, date, and approximate time of the bombing; an IDF representative responded by asking for more precise information, and said they were looking into it.
Footage by Qatari broadcaster Al-Araby TV shows that the two upper floors of Abu Hussein’s building, in Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, were destroyed in the attack. The rest of the building does not appear to be significantly damaged.
In an interview with Al-Araby TV, a relative of Abu Hussein whose name was not disclosed said, “This is a residential building. Only families live here,” and added that the building’s residents had received no notice of the impending attack.
The relative said, “The Israelis know he [Abu Hussein] is a journalist and I believe they target journalists so that we don’t have media.” The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate statement and the report by Voice of Al-Aqsa also accused Israel of having “targeted” the journalist.
Abu Hussein’s recent work for Voice of Al-Aqsa included presenting news bulletins and interviewing the spokesperson for the Gaza Judicial Authority and the director of the traffic police. On May 16, Abu Hussein published his last post on Facebook, where he frequently shared his reporting and had about 1,000 followers; the post includes pictures of the destruction from Israeli airstrikes and efforts to rescue people from under rubble.
Abu Hussein’s colleague, Ahmed Zoghbar, told the independent Quds News Network that the journalist was scheduled to present his “It Happened on This Day” radio news program today.
Abu Hussein worked at Voice of Al-Aqsa for 12 years, according to those news reports; his employer wrote on Twitter that he was buried today.