Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in Gaza Wael al-Dahdouh was live on air when he heard the worst possible news: His family had been attacked by Israel.
His wife Amna, son Mahmoud, daughter Sham and grandson Adam were all killed.
It has been almost a month since the massacre yet Wael has not had any space to grieve. He has continued reporting with great courage on the genocide being inflicted on his people.
“The pain of loss can never be described,” he said in an interview. “It was unbearable but I am a different person because of the profession I hold. I fully believe that God has pearls of wisdom and he is the one who provides a man with patience and strength.”
Wael believes that by documenting Israel’s crimes, he is fulfilling a duty to his family.
“I was determined to return to work and appear on the screen out of loyalty to their blood and the blood of all the martyrs. I refused to let the occupation achieve its goal of shattering this voice. So I overcame my pain to appear to the world again and convey my message and the message of every Palestinian suffering in Gaza.”
Wael has witnessed all five of the previous major Israeli attacks on Gaza since December 2008.
“The 2023 war on Gaza is an absolute horror,” he said. “It is totally different and undoubtedly the bloodiest, the most destructive and the most monstrous. Throughout all the wars we have seen violence, destruction and injuries. But none comes close to this level of brutality and bloodshed.”
While Israel has bombed residential buildings without warning on many occasions, it is doing so far more frequently this time.
“It’s the first war when electricity was fully cut off, water was wholly cut off, and when crossings were completely closed for more than 25 days, preventing aid from entering the Strip,” he said.
I asked Wael when there will be peace and liberty in Gaza.
“When the occupation ends,” he said. “The occupation means aggression and the continuation of these painful images of destruction, horror and hardship. Its end will mean the return of Gaza, Palestine, and the Arab region to the hugs of peace, freedom, love, calm, security and every beautiful thing.”
Aged 53, Wael has no retirement plans despite everything that he has endured. He vows to keep working “no matter the cost.”
Journalists have paid a heavy price during this current war. More than 50 have been killed.
“We are all journalists in these circumstances,” said Wael. “We are not a party to this war. All we do is report events and what is happening around us.”
The bravery of Wael and other Palestinian journalists is at odds with how Western media outlets generally refuse to hold Israel accountable.
“As a human being and a Palestinian, I have a message to people all over the world,” Wael said. “We want you to listen to the narrative of the Palestinians, not just the Israelis. Please do not let the world apply any double standards. We have our narrative and we only ask for justice. Justice must prevail in the world.”
Abubaker Abed is a journalist and translator based in Gaza.
Originally published in Electronic Intifada