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Gaza strikes kill family members of journalist facing death threats


An eruption falls on Gaza, seen from southern Israel, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, November 20, 2023. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko acquire license rights

Nov 20 (Reuters) – Deadly strikes hit the home of a news photographer in Gaza days after an Israeli media advocacy group questioned his coverage of Hamas on Oct. 7, sparking protests death threats against him on social networks.

Yasser Qudih, who survived the strikes on the night of November 13, said four projectiles hit the back of his house, killing eight members of his family.

The attack came five days after HonestReporting’s November 8 report questioning whether Qudih, a freelance photographer, and three other Gaza-based photographers had prior knowledge of the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.

Reuters strongly denied HonestReporting’s speculation, as did other international news agencies identified in the report.

Qudih had provided photos to Reuters during the October 7 attack by Hamas gunmen, although he was not a Reuters photographer.

Qudih said he returned home just an hour before the strikes on his house, spaced a few seconds apart, and without warning, around 7:50 p.m. (5:50 p.m. GMT).

“Israel attacked my house,” he said. When asked why, he added: “I don’t know.”

Reuters could not verify who was responsible for the strikes, why Qudih’s house in southern Gaza was targeted or whether the strikes were linked to HonestReporting’s Nov. 8 report.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which launched a military offensive in Gaza in response to the October 7 attack, refused to say whether its forces carried out the attack and, if so, what the target was.

“The Israeli military is currently focused on eliminating the threat from the Hamas terrorist organization. Questions of this type will be considered later,” he said in response to questions from Reuters.

In a statement, Reuters said it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the deaths of Qudih’s family members. He also said HonestReporting had made “baseless accusations” against Qudih.

“Subsequently, numerous threats against his safety circulated online. HonestReporting later admitted that its accusations were unfounded,” Reuters said.

“The situation on the ground is dire, and the IDF’s refusal to provide assurances regarding the safety of our personnel threatens their ability to provide information about this conflict without fear of injury or death.”

TWO-STOREY HOUSE

HonestReporting’s Nov. 8 report prompted the Israeli prime minister’s office to declare that journalists were complicit in “crimes against humanity.” Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, suggested they should be treated as terrorists and hunted down, and a former Israeli envoy to the United Nations, Danny Danon, said they should be “eliminated.”

After releasing its report, Honest Reporting Executive Director Gil Hoffman told Reuters on November 10 that his organization accepted as “adequate” the statements by Reuters and other media outlets cited in its report that they had not no prior knowledge of the attack.

HonestReporting did not respond to requests for comment on the attack on Qudih’s home. Requests were submitted by Reuters to HonestReporting on Thursday.

In a response to Reuters on Thursday, Danon, a member of Israel’s ruling Likud party, reiterated his initial remark when asked about the strikes on Qudih’s house.

“All the terrorists who entered our communities illegally on October 7, every individual who arrived with the vile murderers who brutally murdered, raped, mutilated, burned and kidnapped while crossing southern Israel, will meet the same fate,” he said. -he declares.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that the Israeli military respected international law and took “possible precautions to mitigate harm to civilians.”

Gantz’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Hamas has not commented on the attack on Qudih’s house.

Qudih told Reuters he lived in a two-story house that housed only him and his immediate and extended family. About 20 people were at home during the strikes, which left a large crater in a courtyard behind the house and destroyed one side of the building.

The director of Nasser Hospital, the main hospital in the area where Qudih lived, confirmed to Reuters that the names and ages of the eight family members killed were among the deaths recorded at the hospital.

Reuters reporting, writing by Mark Bendeich, editing by Timothy Heritage

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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