Al-Jazeera camera operator Samer Abu Daqqa (left) was killed and Gaza bureau chief Wael Al Dahdouh was injured in what was believed to be an Israeli drone strike in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza, on December 15. Al Dahdouh, who lost family members in a previous Israeli airstrike in October, urged Nasser Hospital personnel to evacuate Abu Daqqa from the school where he was trapped for treatment, but reporters said medics were unable to reach Abu Daqqa to evacuate him. (File screenshot: Al-Jazeera; Photo: AFP)

Al-Jazeera cameraperson Samer Abu Daqqa killed, correspondent Wael Al Dahdouh injured in drone attack in Khan Yunis

Beirut, December 15, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply saddened by a drone strike that killed Al-Jazeera Arabic cameraperson Samer Abu Daqqa and injured reporter and Gaza bureau chief Wael Al Dahdouh, and calls on international authorities to conduct an independent investigation into the attack to hold the perpetrators to account.

On December 15, Al Dahdouh and Abu Daqqa were covering the aftermath of the nightly Israeli strikes on a UN school sheltering displaced people in the center of Khan Yunis, southern Gaza, when they were wounded as a result of a missile launched from what is believed to be an Israeli drone, according to reports by their outlet and the Middle East Eye. Al-Jazeera urged the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate Abu Daqqa from the school to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. 

Al-Jazeera later announced that Abu Daqqa died, which was also reported by the Beirut-based press freedom group SKeyes.

In live coverage before his death, Al-Jazeera said Abu Daqqa wasn’t immediately evacuated from the school because he was trapped with other injured civilians. Al-Jazeera reporter Hisham Zaqqout said that Israeli forces were surrounding the school, and medics were unable to reach the hospital to evacuate wounded civilians, including Abu Daqqa.

“CPJ is deeply saddened and alarmed by a drone attack that injured Al-Jazeera journalist Wael Al Dahdouh and killed Samer Abu Daqqa in Khan Yunis, Gaza, and the pattern of attacks on Al-Jazeera journalists and their families,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna, from New York. “CPJ calls on international authorities to independently investigate the attack and hold those responsible to account.”

Many Gazans were taking refuge in the UNRWA-Khan Yunis school for girls, according to Al-Jazeera, which said the school was also hit by bombardment from Israeli tanks. Al-Jazeera aired footage of Al Dahdouh wearing his press vest and assured in its reporting that he was taking precautions and was identifiable as a member of the press.

Al Dahdouh was hit by shrapnel in his right hand and waist and transferred to Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis for treatment, videos shared by his outlet show. In videos at the hospital, Al Dahdouh continuously urged the evacuation of his colleague Abu Daqqa.

Israeli artillery is targeting the center of the city of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, where many Palestinians displaced from the central and northern parts of Gaza are sheltering, Al-Jazeera correspondents say. Clashes with Palestinian fighters are also ongoing as the Israeli military tries to enter the city, according to Al-Jazeera.

On October 25, Wael Al Dahdouh, Al-Jazeera’s bureau chief for Gaza, lost his wife, son, daughter, and grandson when an Israeli airstrike hit the Nuseirat refugee camp, according to a statement from Al-Jazeera and Politico. Other Al-Jazeera journalists have been injured or lost family members during the war, CPJ previously documented.

CPJ’s email to the North America Desk of the Israel Defense Forces did not immediately receive a response.

Since October 7, CPJ has documented dozens of journalists and media workers killed while covering the war.