An Al Jazeera correspondent is mourning the loss of his entire immediate family after they were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.
The family of Wael al-Dahdouh, Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in Gaza, had moved to a house in the Nuseirat camp in central Gaza after Israel’s warning on 13 October to those in the northern half of the territory to leave.
Dahdouh’s wife, son, daughter and grandson were killed in the airstrike late on Tuesday, amid an overnight surge in Israeli attacks that the Hamas-run health ministry said had killed hundreds of people.
In a statement, Al Jazeera said: “Their home was targeted in the Nuseirat camp in the centre of Gaza, where they had sought refuge after being displaced by the initial bombardment in their neighbourhood, following Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s call for all civilians to move south.
“The network strongly condemns the indiscriminate targeting and killing of innocent civilians in Gaza, which has led to the loss of Wael al-Dahdouh’s family and countless others.”
Map showing location of Nuseirat refugee camp, where Dahdouh’s family fled following Israel’s warning that residents should leave the northern region of GazaDahdouh’s family fled to Nuseirat refugee camp following Israel’s warning that residents should leave the northern region of Gaza
Twenty-one other people were killed in the same airstrike, according to the health ministry.
Other members of Dahdouh’s family were buried under the rubble, according to Al Jazeera.
Dahdouh was helping broadcast live images of the besieged territory’s night sky when he received the news that his family members had died.
Moments later, the satellite channel switched to footage of Dahdouh entering Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah before being overcome by grief as he peered over the body of his dead son in the hospital’s morgue.
“They take revenge on us in our children?” he said, kneeling over his son’s bloodied body, still wearing his protective press vest from that day’s work.
Speaking to Al Jazeera on his way out of the hospital, Dahdouh said: “What happened is clear. This is a series of targeted attacks on children, women and civilians. I was just reporting from Yarmouk about such an attack, and the Israeli raids have targeted many areas, including Nuseirat.
“We had our doubts that the Israeli occupation would not let these people go without punishing them. And sadly, that is what happened. This is the ‘safe’ area that the occupation army spoke of.”
The video is likely to reverberate across the Arab world. The 53-year-old journalist is revered in his native Gaza for telling people’s stories of suffering and hardship to the outside world through many wars.
Youmna ElSayed, a correspondent for Al Jazeera in Gaza, told the broadcaster: “It’s heartbreaking to be reporting about Wael’s family and to see how broken he is. He calms everyone. He speaks to us like a big brother, not just a bureau chief.
“He didn’t leave Gaza City. He stayed despite all the threats and warnings and didn’t stop for 19 days in a row. He said: ‘I must be here in Gaza City to report about these people who are getting bombed every day.’”
Dahdouh and other mourners attended the funerals on Thursday wearing the blue flak jackets used by reporters in the Palestinian territories.
There was no comment from the Israeli military on the strike. It says it strikes only Hamas military targets in Gaza and accuses Hamas of using civilians as human shields.
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The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says more than 7,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war in less than three weeks, a figure that includes the disputed toll from an explosion at a hospital. That is more than three times the number of Palestinians killed in the six-week-long Gaza war in 2014. The ministry’s toll includes more than 2,900 minors and more than 1,500 women. The victims in Gaza include more than 22 journalists, according to the Palestinian journalists’ union.
The fighting has killed more than 1,400 people in Israel, mostly civilians killed during the initial Hamas attack on 7 October, according to the Israeli government.
On Wednesday night, Israeli airstrikes in the southern city of Khan Younis levelled more than eight homes belonging to an extended family, killing at least 15 people. Ambulances raced to the scene as dust from the collapsing buildings hung in the air.
About 1.4 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have fled their homes, with nearly half of them crowded into UN shelters. Hundreds of thousands remain in northern Gaza, despite Israel ordering them to evacuate to the south, saying those who remain might be considered “accomplices” of Hamas.
Reuters contributed to this report