Shireen Abu Akleh: Al Jazeera accuses Israel of shooting dead journalist in West Bank

International governments, including US and UK, have called for a ‘thorough investigation’

Arpan Rai
Wednesday 11 May 2022 16:37
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General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouti condemns killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

An Al Jazeera correspondent has been shot dead while covering a raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin.

The Qatari-based broadcaster said Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-known Palestinian and American female reporter, was killed by Israeli forces.

In a statement, Al Jazeera called on the international community to “condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for deliberately targeting and killing our colleague, Shireen Abu Akleh”.

Another journalist, working for the Jerusalem-based Al-Quds newspaper, was also shot and wounded in the incident, and also blamed Israel for the incident.

The Israeli military initiaLLY disputed that its forces had shot the two journalists.

It said Israeli soldiers came under attack with heavy gunfire and explosives while operating in Jenin, and that they fired back. The military said it is “investigating the event and looking into the possibility that the journalists were hit by the Palestinian gunmen”.

A statement from its foreign ministry said that “Palestinian terrorists, firing indiscriminately, are likely to have hit Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqla”.

However, Israeli army chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi later appeared to pull back from that claim, saying instead “at this stage, we cannot determine by whose fire she was harmed and we regret her death”.

Abu Akleh was in Jenin covering Israeli raids on Palestinian refugee camps there. Several other journalists were also on the scene and they escorted Akleh to hospital in critical condition, Palestinian health ministry officials said, where she was later pronounced dead.

Journalists escorting veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot in the West Bank, to the hospital in Jenin

An Al Jazeera report said the exact circumstances around Abu Akleh’s death remained unclear but that it appeared she had been shot in the head, according to fellow journalist Nida Ibrahim.

She said: “What we know for now is that the Palestinian health ministry has announced her death. Shireen Abu Akleh was covering the events unfolding in Jenin, specifically an Israeli raid the city, which is north of the occupied West Bank, when she was hit by a bullet to the head.”

This is a “shock to the journalists who have been working with her”, Ibrahim added.

Health ministry officials said the Al-Quds journalist Ali Samoudi, who is also Palestinian, was hit in the back by a bullet but has been reported to be in a stable condition.

Israel’s foreign minister Yair Lapid said that the country has offered the Palestinians “a joint pathological investigation into the sad death of journalist Shireen Abu Aqla[Akleh]”.

“Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth,” the top minister said on Twitter.

Abu Akleh, 51, was born in Jerusalem. She began working for Al Jazeera in 1997 and regularly reported on-camera from across the Palestinian territories.

Reactions of shock and grief have poured in from across the world, as well as statements condemning the actions that led to the death of a prominent journalist who was covering conflict.

Mourners carry the body of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during her funeral

In a statement, Qatar’s foreign ministry called the death an “assassination” by “Israeli occupation forces”.

The British consulate in Jerusalem called for more safety for journalists.

“Shocked at news of the death of Shireen Abu Aqleh, veteran Palestinian Al Jazeera journalist. Shireen was shot during and Israeli operation in Jenin refugee camp this morning. Media freedom and safety of journalists are essential and must be respected,” the consulate said on Twitter.

The British ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, took to Twitter to push for a “thorough and transparent” probe into the death.

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of Al Jazeera’s @ShireenNasri in Jenin this morning. Journalists must be allowed to work safely and freely. I urge a rapid, thorough and transparent investigation,” the envoy said.

Calling Abu Akleh a close friend, Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom Husam Zomlot said: “Israeli occupation forces assassinated our beloved journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while covering their brutality in Jenin this morning”.

The US ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, said the journalist’s death was “very sad” and called for a “thorough investigation”.

Former Palestinian education minister Hanan Ashrawi also paid a tribute to the journalist and said: “Shireen Abu Aqleh—a wonderful human being, a remarkable journalist, a dear longtime friend—was shot & murdered by the Israeli occupation army. The heart breaks. Palestine grieves. Rest in peace & power & love.”

The headline of this article was changed shortly after initial publication. It originally said that Ms Abu Akleh had been shot by Israeli forces, without making it clear that this was a disputed claim.

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