The IPI global network demands full accountability for the killing of freelance journalists Hamza Al Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya in an apparent targeted attack by Israeli forces in southern Gaza on Sunday. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has acknowledged responsibility for the attack, claiming that it had targeted what it said was a terrorist who was traveling with the journalists in a car. We call on authorities to open an immediate, credible, and independent investigation and hold the IDF accountable for this egregious and unacceptable attack on the press. 

According to reports, the journalists were driving in a car while on a reporting assignment on Sunday near Rafah in southern Gaza when the vehicle was hit by an IDF missile. Hamza Wael Dahdouh, a freelancer for Al Jazeera and the son of Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief Wael Al-Dahdouh, and Mustafa Thuria, a stringer for AFP who was also working for Al Jazeera, were both killed. A third journalist, Hazem Rajab, was seriously wounded. Two additional journalists, Ahmed Al-Burash and Amer Abu Amr, who worked for Palestine Today TV, were passing by in a separate car and were injured by the blast.

With the death of his son, Wael Al-Dahdouh has now lost five family members to Israeli airstrikes since the war’s start on October 7. The Al Jazeera correspondent was also injured by an IDF missile in December.

The IDF told the Times of Israel that one of its aircraft “identified and struck a terrorist who operated an aircraft in a way that put IDF forces at risk”. However this claim comes amid a spate of unprecedented violence against journalists in Gaza, which follows years of targeted attacks on journalists in Palestine by the IDF.

At least 75 journalists have been killed in three months since the war started — the largest number of journalists to be killed in this span of time in any modern war or conflict on record. A vast majority of those killed have been Palestinian journalists covering the war from inside Gaza, and who have been killed by Israeli airstrikes and ground raids.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of journalists Hamza Wael Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuria by the IDF, which has a long and shameful history of killing Palestinian journalists with impunity”, IPI Executive Director Frane Maroevic said. “According to the Geneva Conventions, journalists in war zones must be treated as civilians and protected as such. IPI demands full justice for Hamza and Mustafa and for the scores of journalists who have been killed since the start of this war.”

He added: “We also call on the international community to take urgent action to stop the bloodshed of journalists and civilians in Gaza by using all possible diplomatic avenues to hold Israel to its obligation to respect the rules of war, which require states to protect journalists and civilians during times of armed conflict.”