Al Jazeera cameraman made me coffee just before Israel killed him

A crowd seen from above surrounds a stretcher with a press helmet

Colleagues and friends say a final farewell to Samer Abu Daqqa before he was laid to rest on 16 December.

Mustafa Thraya DPA

Last Friday, as usual, I was at Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, covering Israel’s genocidal war.

I called Samer Abu Daqqa, a cameraman with Al Jazeera, and a friend. He came quickly, smiling as usual.

“I have coffee on my mind, Samer,” I said.

“Straight away,” he said and went off to make the coffee himself.

It was the last cup of coffee he would make.

Samer left with Al Jazeera correspondent Wael al-Dahdouh to cover the rescue by civil defense workers of a family trapped in their home in the middle of the city of Khan Younis.

The Al Jazeera crew was informed that coordination had been made with the occupation army to let the civil defense vehicles enter. Upon their arrival to the scene, however, an Israeli plane bombed the area, killing Samer, along with three civil defense workers, and wounding Wael.

Wael told me later that he fell to the ground and became dizzy after the first bombing. Then he pulled himself up and ran hundreds of meters away from the target site.

His right arm was bleeding as a result of being hit by shrapnel. An ambulance eventually arrived and took him to Nasser Medical Complex for treatment.

Despite much effort, no one, not even ambulances, could reach Samer, who was left bleeding for about five hours. While trying to crawl to safety, Samer apparently took off the protective armor that journalists wear while working in the field.

Then another airstrike hit, ending his life.

His body was later returned to Nasser Medical Complex, the place where he himself had covered the many martyrs and wounded in the weeks prior to his murder.

All evidence indicates the targeting of the Al Jazeera crew was intentional.

The Israeli military knew in advance through coordination that journalists would be accompanying the civil defense crew to the area.

It should have been clear to the occupation aircraft that those in the area were civil defense crews. They were wearing official uniforms, while the journalists wore armored vests and helmets upon which is clearly written “Press.”

Samer is no longer with us, but he left us with memories of his joyful spirit.

He left us without the chance to say goodbye to his children and his wife in Belgium.

He left our world as a martyr and a witness to mass murder in Gaza.

His murder brings the number of journalists killed to over 90. It is yet another crime committed openly in front of the eyes and ears of the entire world.

That cup of coffee on the morning of his murder turned out to be the final one Samer ever made. It leaves a bitter taste for me that will last forever.

Peace to Samer’s soul.

Khalil Abu Shammala is a human rights activist in Gaza.