IDF appears to walk back claim journalists killed in Gaza were in car with terrorist

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Family members mourn Hamza Dahdouh, who worked for Al Jazeera and who was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, January 7, 2024 (AP Photo/Hatem Ali) (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
Family members mourn Hamza Dahdouh, who worked for Al Jazeera and who was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, January 7, 2024 (AP Photo/Hatem Ali) (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

The IDF appears to walk back its claim that two journalists killed in a strike in southern Gaza’s Rafah earlier this week were with a Hamas terrorist piloting a drone.

In Sunday’s strike in Rafah, Hamza Wael Dahdouh, the son of Al Jazeera’s Gaza correspondent Wael Al-Dahdouh, and Mustafa Thuria, a video stringer for AFP who was also working for the Qatar-based TV outlet, were both killed. A third journalist, Hazem Rajab, was seriously wounded, Al Jazeera said.

The IDF said hours after the strike that a military aircraft “identified and struck a terrorist who operated an aircraft in a way that put IDF forces at risk.”

NBC News asked IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari if the military had evidence to support the claim that the target with the two journalists was a terrorist, to which he responded by saying the incident was still under investigation.

“Every journalist that dies, it’s unfortunate,” Hagari is quoted by NBC as saying.

“We understand they were putting a drone, using a drone. And using a drone in a war zone, it’s a problem. It looks like the terrorists,” Hagari says.

Hamas has used drones to collect intelligence on Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip, as well as carry out attacks by dropping explosives from the unmanned aircraft.

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