Samer Abu Daqqa

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Samer Abu Daqqa, a 45-year-old Palestinian journalist, cameraman, and editor for the Qatari-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera Arabic, was killed in what is believed to be an Israeli drone strike in Khan Yunis of Gaza on December 15, 2023.

On December 15, Al-Jazeera Arabic correspondent and bureau chief in Gaza Wael Al Dahdouh and Abu Daqqa were covering the aftermath of an Israeli strike on a United Nations-run 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.

Thousands of Palestinians were killed in the first months of the Israel-Gaza war, which began on October 7 after Hamas militants attacked Israel, leaving about 1,200 Israelis dead.

Al-Jazeera reported that it had 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 said that Abu Daqqa had died after being “left to bleed to death for 5 hours.”

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 the wounded.

Al-Jazeera Media Network said in a statement on December 15 it held Israel accountable “for systematically targeting and killing Al-Jazeera journalists and their families” in the war. In another statement on December 16, the network said it had instructed its legal team to “urgently” refer the case of what it called “the assassination” of Abu Daqqa to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

In response to a CNN inquiry, the IDF said in a statement that an ambulance dispatched to help Abu Daqqa had “encountered road damage” and couldn’t reach the scene in time. “Once we became aware of an injured individual and received a request to grant permission for an ambulance, COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) granted permission for the ambulance to use a safe passage.”

A January 12 investigation by The Intercept into the hours before Abu Daqqa’s death  found that “Israeli forces did not allow safe passage for emergency crews for hours, though they were aware a journalist was urgently in need of help.”

Abu Daqqa, born in 1978, was a father of four children who live with his wife, Rana, in Belgium. He joined Al-Jazeera as a camera operator and editor in June 2004, according to the Al-Jazeera Arabic channel.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Abu Daqqa’s son Yazan said that his “father was assassinated,” adding that he was “proud that his father is a journalist martyr.” Yazan said that his last communication with his father was the day prior to his death.

Abu Daqqa was buried in Khan Yunis on December 16, 2023.

The North America Desk of the Israel Defense Forces did not respond to emailed requests for comment on the investigations by CPJ, which has called for an independent investigation into the attack.