Senior Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh (51) was killed by the Israeli security forces when she was covering a raid by them in the Jenin refugee camp in occupied West Bank on Wednesday, May 11. She was shot in the face despite wearing a press vest which identified her as a journalist.
Another Palestinian journalist and Akleh’s colleague Ali al-Samoudi was also wounded in the shooting. He was shot in the back and was admitted to a hospital where he was reported to be out of danger.
In a statement to the press, al-Samoudi claimed that the Israeli forces fired at them without any warning when they were going to cover the raid. Israel has been carrying out repeated raids in Palestinian villages in recent times to make arbitrary arrests. Its security forces have killed dozens of Palestinians in such raids.
Israel denied that the security forces targeted the journalists. Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid offered a “joint pathological investigation” to find out the truth.
Disputing the claims made by Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett that Akleh was killed by Palestinian bullets during a gunfight, Israel-based +972 magazine quoted eyewitnesses saying that she was shot by an “Israeli sniper who opened fire on the reporters without warning.”
Abu Akleh was shot dead while performing her job and wearing a clearly-marked PRESS jacket. According to the Palestinian journalists who were with her at the time of her killing, she was shot by Israeli snipers who opened fire on the reporters without warning.
— +972 Magazine (@972mag) May 11, 2022
It also expressed apprehensions about the credibility of the investigation offered by Israel.
There is little hope that an Israeli investigation will have any credibility with Shireen's colleagues, family, and all those who grieve her in Palestine and beyond. Nor is there much hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice for this crime.
— +972 Magazine (@972mag) May 11, 2022
Israeli claims were also disputed by several other reporters who were at the scene of Akleh’s killing, who say that there was no cross firing.
MEE journalist Shatha Hanaysha was with Abu Akleh when she came under fire
She said there was no exchange of fire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters, but the journalists were attacked by Israeli snipers https://t.co/OXNfC4JUxe
— Daniel Hilton (@DanielHiltonCFC) May 11, 2022
Akleh, a Palestinian with US citizenship, had been covering the Israeli occupation and Palestinian resistance for over two decades. She constantly faced violence from Israeli security forces and was targeted by illegal Israeli settlers earlier as well.
Al Jazeera issued a statement calling Akleh’s killing a “cold blooded assassination” and “intentional targeting and killing”, demanding accountability of the Israeli forces responsible.
“Al Jazeera Media Network condemns this heinous crime, which intends to only prevent the media from conducting their duty,” the statement said.
Several prominent figures expressed their shock over the killing of Akleh. Vijay Prashad, journalist and director of the Tricontinental Institute of Social Research, condemned the killing and termed it yet another aspect of Israeli apartheid.
Fellow reporter, Sherin Abu Aqla (age 51), the voice of Palestine, executed by the state of Israel while she was doing her job, wearing a Press vest. We condemn this and other aspects of Israeli apartheid. pic.twitter.com/FaJpoWPy1h
— Vijay Prashad (@vijayprashad) May 11, 2022
Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Qatari government also issued condemnations of the killing of Akleh. PA said in a statement that “the presidency holds the Israeli government fully responsible for this heinous crime.”
Qatari assistant foreign minister Lolwah Alkhater called Akleh’s killing “state sponsored Israeli terrorism” in a tweet on Wednesday.
Similar sentiments were expressed by several other journalists and politicians from across the world.
The Israeli war machine has murdered the brave @ShireenNasri for reporting on their war crimes
— Chris Hazzard (@ChrisHazzardSF) May 11, 2022
Akleh’s death is not a one-off event, said Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir. He claimed that Israeli forces systematically use excessive violence. “This [killing of Akleh’s] is an event that needs to understood in the context of this systemic practice and the killings of many other Palestinian journalists,” Al Jazeera reported.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 18 journalists have been killed in Israel/Palestine since 1992. Israeli forces had similarly killed two Palestinian journalists in April 2018 while they were covering the “great march of return” protests. According to Reporters without Borders, in the last four years, at least 144 Palestinian journalists have been exposed to violence by the Israeli security forces while covering Palestinian protests.