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Former Reuters cameraman appeals for help to get family out of Gaza

A Palestinian TV journalist who worked for Reuters for 21 years, is appealing for help to get his daughter’s family out of Gaza, where they are living in a tent after losing their home in Israel’s response to the October 7 Hamas attack. 

Shams Odeh (photo) has turned to former colleagues inside and outside Reuters to draw attention to a GoFundMe appeal mounted for his daughter Diana, 25, her husband, their five-year-old son and baby daughter. The family is seeking to raise £25,000 to pay for their exit across the Rafah crossing with Egypt and help them start a new life outside the Gaza Strip.

Diana told the Baron her family was bombed out of their home in northern Gaza in an Israeli airstrike on an adjacent tower block the day after the Hamas attack. Her family has now been displaced five times and is living with Odeh, his wife and son in tents in Deir al Balah in central Gaza.

The Israel-Gaza war began when Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Israel responded with an air, sea and ground assault that has killed more than 31,000 Palestinians, health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza say. Some 85 percent of Gaza’s population is displaced and at least a quarter of the population faces famine, the UN says.

“I hope that people who read our appeal will understand that we are humans, not numbers,” Diana said. “As a mother, I want to provide my children with a safe home and secure their future with a happy life in which there are no wars, hunger, fear, displacement and heartbreak.” A freelance translator, Diana has been unable to work since October and her husband’s pharmacy has been bombed, leaving the family without an income.

Odeh began working for Reuters in 1992, initially as a freelance cameraman, and was honored in 1997 with an award from the Rory Peck Trust for a Reuters TV report that included footage of Odeh himself being taken away in an ambulance after being shot twice in the leg by Israeli soldiers. In 2008, he moved to Cairo as Reuters Senior TV Producer for Egypt and North Africa and returned to Gaza in 2013. He has since worked for various news outlets, and has helped cover the latest conflict for U.S. public broadcaster PBS

Both of Odeh’s homes in Gaza have been destroyed in the Israeli assault on the territory and he also plans to leave. In a video he posted on Facebook in January at the site of his destroyed house, which took him 25 years to build, Odeh said: “I will not allow hatred to enter my heart. I will love peace and continue to love peace and not lose my hope.”

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 95 journalists and media workers have been confirmed dead since the Israel-Gaza war began last October, making it the deadliest period for journalists since CPJ began gathering data in 1992. ■