According to witnesses, the car was hit by two missiles on a street in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip. Three days after this strike which killed journalists Hamza Al-Dahdouh and Moustafa Thuraya, the Israeli army said on Wednesday January 10 that the two men, who then worked for the Qatari channel Al-Jazeera, were identified as “ terrorist agents” affiliated with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and its ally Islamic Jihad.

“Prior to the strike, the two were piloting drones that posed an imminent threat to Israeli troops,” the army said in a statement. Asked by Agence France-Presse (AFP) about the type of drones used and the nature of this threat, the Israeli army responded late in the evening that it would examine this point.

“Military intelligence confirmed that the two deceased were members of terrorist organizations based in Gaza and actively involved in attacks against Israeli forces,” according to this text.

The families of the two men and the Qatari channel Al-Jazeera had not reacted late Wednesday evening. In addition to the two men, this Israeli strike injured a third journalist and the driver of the vehicle.

Documents found in the Gaza Strip

Thirty-year-old Moustafa Thuraya has collaborated with Agence France-Presse (AFP) since 2019 as an occasional freelancer, as well as with other international media. Hamza Al-Dahdouh was the son of Wael Al-Dahdouh, head of the Al-Jazeera bureau in Gaza and a figure in the community of Palestinian journalists in the enclave, who lost his wife and two other children in a bombing in late October 2023. Two of his nephews were also killed in a strike.

The Israeli military refers to Moustafa Thuraya as “a member of the Hamas Brigade in Gaza City, vice commander of a squadron in the Al-Qadisiyah Battalion.”

Hamza Al-Dahdouh is designated as an “Islamic Jihad terrorist who was involved in the organization’s terrorist activities.” “Documents found by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip reveal his role in the Islamic Jihad electronic engineering unit, as well as his previous role as vice commander” of the rocket cell in the Gaza Strip. “Zeitun battalion,” according to the text.

The army attaches to its document a list presented as that of “agents” of the engineering unit mentioning the name of Hamza Al-Dahdouh.

After the death of its two journalists, Al-Jazeera strongly condemned “the targeting by Israeli occupying forces of the Palestinian journalists’ car” and accused Israel of “violating the principles of press freedom.” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the deaths of the two journalists as an “unimaginable tragedy”.

At least 79 journalists and media professionals, the vast majority Palestinian, have been killed since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.