Haitham Abdelwahid

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Haitham Abdelwahid, a cameraman and video editor for Ain Media, a Gaza production company, went missing near the Erez crossing, known locally as the Beit Hanoun crossing, while reporting on Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, according to news reports, his employer, and the Palestinian press freedom organization MADA

Ain Media’s director, Shrouq Al Aila, told CPJ via messaging app that on October 7 Abdelwahid and Ibrahim Mohammad Lafi, another Ain Media journalist, went out to cover the events with Nidal Al-Wahidi, a close friend and colleague. Lafi was killed that day, while both Abdelwahid and Al-Wahidi went missing.   

Al Aila told CPJ that she doesn’t know if Abelwahid or Al-Wahidi are alive or dead, noting that local paramedics were unable to search the area because of ongoing Israeli airstrikes. 

Abdelwahid’s brother, Hisham Abdelwahid, who spoke to CPJ on email and messaging app on April 10, said that the family has not received any information about the journalist, but were hoping that he was alive as a Gaza resident who had been released from Israeli custody said he saw him in prison. The family was unable to confirm the account. 

HaMoked, an Israeli human rights organization, as well as other groups on October 23 petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice to order Israeli authorities to reveal information about Gazans suspected to have been detained by Israel since October 7, including Abdelwahid and Al-Wahidi. 

According to a translation of the court ruling, which CPJ has reviewed, the High Court of Justice on October 31 rejected the petition on the grounds that HaMoked was acting on behalf of the journalists’ work colleagues rather than on behalf of family members, even though the ruling acknowledges that the families of the missing journalists joined the petition at a later date. The court also rejected the petition because it said the military order cited by HaMoked as a legal precedent for the disclosure of information to detainees’ relatives was applicable in the West Bank but not in Gaza. It also said that authorities are not legally obligated to provide information to relatives of people detained during hostilities.

The Shin Bet, Israel’s security service, did not reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.