Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to Samer Abudaqa, an Al Jazeera journalist killed in an Israeli attack in the Gaza Strip.
Al Jazeera confirmed on Friday that Abudaqa, a cameraman for Al Jazeera Arabic in Gaza, had been hit by an Israeli attack while reporting at a school in Khan Younis.
His colleague, Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent Wael Dahdouh, who lost his wife, son, daughter and grandson in a previous Israeli bombing, was wounded in the attack.
“Al Jazeera holds the Israeli Occupation Forces fully accountable for Samer’s safety, deeming this incident a deliberate attempt to target its correspondents and their families in the Gaza Strip,” Al Jazeera said in a statement.
Abudaqa and Dahdouh had worked tirelessly to cover the war between Israel and Hamas, paying special attention to the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, where Israeli siege and bombardment have displaced more than 80 percent of the population and plunged the enclave into a humanitarian crisis.
Colleagues at Al Jazeera remembered Abudaqa as an exemplary journalist and a caring man, a father of four who was beloved by those who worked alongside him.
“He was very close to me. We were sharing food and drinks together at night, sometimes he just came to me searching for anything he could do to help us, [to ask us], ‘What would you like to eat for dinner?’” Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum reported from Rafah in southern Gaza.
“He asked me all the time about my family members, about how I feel, what are the newest updates on the ground; he was really a brother before he was a colleague.”
Azzoum said that Abudaqa had hoped to reunite with members of his family after the war.
“Sometimes, he showed me photos of his kids, saying, ‘This is my eldest son,’ ‘This my youngest one,’ ‘This one is the prettiest,’” he said.
Al Jazeera’s Heba Akila said Abudaqa would “add humorous moments and joy to all of our gatherings”. “Samer was a wonderful human,” she said.
“There is no place that is spared. There is no safe place. There is no immunity for anyone.”
Dahdouh was brought to a nearby hospital for treatment, but medical workers were prevented from reaching Abudaqa due to Israeli bombardment, Al Jazeera said.
“We captured the devastating destruction and reached places that had not been reached by any camera lens since the Israeli ground operation started,” Dahdouh said from his hospital bed, noting that he felt “something big” that knocked him back onto the ground.
“I am trying to gather my strength to continue with you what we started on the first day of this war. Despite everything, I expect that I will be able be with you live on television,” he added.
Four Al Jazeera journalists have lost family members in the Israeli assault on Gaza since the war began on October 7. Abudaqa is the first Al Jazeera journalist to be killed.
Al Jazeera has called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for attacks on reporters.
Before Abudaqa’s death on Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that at least 63 reporters and media workers have been killed since the fighting began on October 7, 56 of them Palestinian, four Israeli, and three Lebanese.
“I think this is now a press freedom issue. I think we have to ask ourselves ‘What is the [Israeli military] are trying to achieve? Why won’t they let foreign journalists in?” Tim Dawson, deputy general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, told Al Jazeera.
“We know that a great many Palestinian journalists have been targeted, many of them have told me that personally, which is a terrifying and unforgivable prospect.”
Source : AL JAZEERA