Israeli Army claims 2 journalists killed were ‘members’ of ‘terrorist organizations’

The Israeli Armed Forces announced on Wednesday that it had intelligence that proved that the two journalists it killed in an air strike on Sunday in Gaza were members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

According to a statement released by the IDF, in the morning of Jan. 7, “IDF troops detected a hostile drone near Rafah, an immediate threat to nearby soldiers,” and dispatched an aircraft to “target the drone’s operators” who were killed in the attack.

The victims were the reporters Mustafa Thuria, freelance videographer and contributor, among other media, for the French news agency AFP, and Hamza al-Dahdouh, who worked for Al Jazeera and was the eldest son of the head of the Qatari channel in Gaza, Wael al-Dahdouh.

Immediately after the deaths became public, the IDF said that the men, who were riding in a vehicle with another journalist who was injured, were operating a drone “that posed a threat to IDF troops” and later added that the incident as “unfortunate” but that “using a drone in a war zone, it’s a problem.”

In Wednesday’s statement the IDF included a document in Arabic that it claimed to have found in Gaza that “reveal (al-Dahdouh’s) role in the Islamic Jihad’s electronic engineering unit and his previous role as a deputy commander in the Zeitun Battalion’s Rocket Array.”

The Israeli Army also said that it had found documents that identified Thuria as a “member of Hamas’ Gaza City Brigade, serving as Squad Deputy Commander in the al-Qadisiyyah Battalion” but did not publish them.

Al-Dahdouh’s father became internationally known when he learned during a live broadcast on Oct. 25 that Israeli bombardments had killed his wife, 15-year old son, 7-year old daughter and 1-year old grandson.

In addition Wael was also injured a few weeks ago during in an Israeli drone strike while covering the bombing of a school that killed a colleague, cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa.

After the killing of his eldest son, the Al Jazeera Media Network “strongly” condemned the “Israeli occupation forces’ targeting of Palestinian journalists” and accused Israel of having “systematically targeted our colleague Wael AlDahdoh and his family.”

According to the international organizations Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders (RSF, for its initials in French) at least 79 journalists and media workers have been killed since the war began.

RSF said on Monday that following two complaints that it filed with the International Criminal Court in october and December “the office of prosecutor Karim Khan has assured the organization that crimes against journalists are included in its investigation into Palestine.”

“We have found to date that at least 18 (journalists) were killed in the course of, or because of, their duties as journalists, but only a thorough investigation will establish the immense extent of the war crimes against media professionals. The announcement by the ICC prosecutor’s office to RSF is good news, which we welcome,” said Christophe Deloire, secretary general of RSF

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga