On February 2, the Kerala Media Academy has announced that Wael Al-Dahdouh, Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief, has been selected for the Academy’s ‘Mediaperson of the Year’ award. This is in recognition of his exceptional journalistic courage.
The award is supposed to be presented by Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. It comprises a sum of Rs 1 lakh, a citation and a sculpture. According to the KMA, Dahdouh was recognised for his fearless reporting that allowed the world to see the true picture of the catastrophe in Gaza.
Al-Dahdouh’s wife Amna, son Mahmoud, daughter Sham and grandson Adam were killed in October 2023 after an Israeli air raid hit his home at the Nuseirat refugee camp where they were sheltering, in an allegedly targetted attack.
His other son Hamza, also an Al Jazeera journalist, was killed on duty alongside videographer Mustafa Thuraya when a direct Israeli airstrike hit their car in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.
Al-Dahdouh himself and his colleague, cameraman Samer Abudaqa, were injured in December 2023 while filming an Israeli attack on a UN school. Abudaqa bled to death as Israeli artillery prevented medics from reaching him.
Dahdouh was chosen following recommendations from an association of investigative journalists and a committee of editors of magazines, said the Academy. KMA chairperson R.S. Babu said Dahdouh, who is undergoing treatment in Qatar, termed the award an honour.
In mid-January, Al-Dahdouh arrived in Qatar to undergo surgery for wounds sustained in the attack.
According to UN reports, more than 122 journalists and media workers have been among the 27,000 people killed in Israel’s nearly four-month offensive in Gaza.
Press freedom watchdog the Committee to Protect Journalists said last month that media professionals were being killed in Gaza at a rate that has no parallel in modern history and that there was ‘an apparent pattern of targeting of journalists and their families by the Israeli military’.
Wael Hamdan Al-Dahdouh was born on April 30, 1970, in the Zaytoun neighborhood, the oldest neighborhood of Gaza City in the Israeli occupied Gaza Strip. He grew up in a well-off Gazan family, whose origins are from the Arabian Peninsula. He received his primary and secondary education in several schools in Gaza City.
He spent seven years in Israeli prisons immediately after obtaining his high school diploma in 1988. He again obtained a high school diploma in an Israeli prison. He received BA in journalism and media from the Islamic University of Gaza in 1998, after Israel prevented him from traveling to study abroad he received a master’s degree in regional studies from Al-Quds University, Abu Dis, in 2007. Al-Dahdouh started work for the press in 1998.
Al-Dahdouh worked for the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds as a correspondent in Gaza, and wrote for other Palestinian magazines, then worked as a correspondent for the radio Voice of Palestine, as well as for Sahar satellite channel at the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000. He also worked as a correspondent for the Al Arabiya in 2003, then moved to work as a reporter and official in the Al-Jazeera office in the Gaza Strip since 2004.