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IDF hits back at claim it targets journalists, produces evidence that Al Jazeera ‘journalists’ were Hamas and PIJ members

Many Palestinian ‘journalists’ killed in the war have ties to terror groups

Al Jazeera journalist Wael Al-Dahdouh hugs his daughter and son as they attend the funeral of his son, Palestinian journalist Hamza Al-Dahdouh, after Hamza was killed in an Israeli strike, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Jan. 7, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)

After an Israel Air Force strike against drone operators in Gaza last week killed three men, two of whom were identified as journalists by Palestinian media, the IDF released evidence on Wednesday evening showing the two were members of Gaza terror groups. 

Israel has complained in the past about people working as journalists with ties to terror groups. Wednesday’s evidence marks one of the first times the IDF has sought to demonstrate those connections, as it faces growing accusations of deliberately targeting journalists. 

On Jan. 7, IDF troops detected a drone threat near Rafah, which they perceived as an immediate threat to a group of nearby soldiers. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) dispatched its aircraft to target the drone's operators. 

After the strike, Palestinian media reported that journalists working for Qatari state-owned media network Al Jazeera – Hamza al-Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuria – were killed in the strike. IDF intelligence confirmed that both the deceased men were members of Gaza-based terrorist organizations actively involved in attacks against IDF troops. The IDF did not claim that the two were conducting an operation for the terror groups at the time they were struck. 

Prior to the strike, the two men had been operating drones in a conflict zone, posing an imminent threat to IDF troops. 

Both men did work as freelance journalists, as well as being registered members of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). 

Thuria, identified in a document found by IDF troops in Gaza, was a member of Hamas' Gaza City Brigade, serving as Squad Deputy Commander in the al-Qadisiyyah Battalion. 

Al-Dahdouh belonged to PIJ and was involved in the organization’s activities. Documents found by IDF troops in the Gaza Strip revealed his role in PIJ's electronic engineering unit and his previous role as a deputy commander in the Zeitun Battalion's Rocket Array. 

The IAF strike was decried by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and was even mentioned this week by U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken during his Middle East tour. 

“The killings of journalists Hamza Al Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya must be independently investigated, and those behind their deaths must be held accountable. The continuous killings of journalists and their family members by Israeli army fire must end: journalists are civilians, not targets,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. 

The CPJ lists 74 journalists killed since the start of the war on Oct. 7, four of whom were Israeli journalists – 3 of them murdered in their homes during the invasion. 

The CPJ organization registers almost all journalist deaths as killed on “Dangerous Assignment.” This information is verifiably false in several instances, including those of the Israeli journalists killed in the invasion. 

This is in contradiction to their own standards listed on their FAQ page

“Does the “unconfirmed” list include journalists who die from other causes like illness, natural disasters or accidents?"

"No, we do not include cases where journalists are clearly not killed for their journalism,” the page reads.

Additionally, nowhere on the CPJ list is the reader informed that some of the organizations listed are owned by Hamas or PIJ, or receive significant funding from them.

Palestine Today is affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as is Palestinian Media Gathering, while Al Aqsa TV is run by Hamas

This is also in contradiction to one of CPJ’s internal rules. On its FAQ page regarding the war in Gaza, CPJ states:  “We do not include journalists if there is evidence that they were acting on behalf of militant groups or serving in a military capacity at the time of their deaths.” 

Investigative journalist David Collier wrote an extensive report on the issue of Palestinian journalists and terror groups that can be accessed here

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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