A veteran and prominent Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot by unknown assailants during a raid in West Bank early last Wednesday. Israeli authorities have launched an investigation in an effort to determine who killed the reporter truly. However, many allege that it was the Israeli forces who shot her.
The circumstances behind her shooting are unclear as of writing. However, a video that has surfaced online may provide clues to what had happened. The journalist was reportedly wearing a press vest, indicating that she was part of the media personnel covering the present situation in Jenin, a Palestinian city on the northwestern West Bank. Specifically, she was there to cover an Israeli Defense Forces operation amid continued Arab attacks in Israel.
Gunfire was heard near at Abu Akleh’s position. The forces shooting at Abu Akleh have not been determined at this time. However, a few seconds after the gunshots, Abu Akleh was seen lying face-first on the ground. A man behind the camera can be heard screaming for an ambulance, saying, “Shireen! Shireen! Ambulance!”
Two other journalists were beside Abu Akleh, with another individual trying to recover Abu Akleh’s body also getting shot at. Another Palestinian journalist Ali al-Samoodi was also wounded during the operation.
Warning: Graphic video
Clearly depicts continued Israeli firing after Shireen Abu Akleh went down. Screams of “Ambulance”. One man tries to retrieve Shireen, others scream at him to move back from Israeli sniper range.
— لينة (@LinahAlsaafin) May 11, 2022
Al Jazeera, a Qatar-based news site, was quick to blame the Israeli forces for shooting their veteran journalist. Al-Samoudi and other journalists at the scene of the shooting reported that there were no Palestinian fighters within the vicinity when the journalists were shot at.
In the network’s statement, they accused the Israelis of assassinating Abu Akleh in “cold blood,” asserting that she was clearly wearing a press jacket.
“Al Jazeera Media Network condemns this heinous crime, which intends to only prevent the media from conducting their duty. Al Jazeera holds the Israeli government and the occupation forces responsible for the killing of Shireen. It also calls on the international community to condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for their intentional targeting and killing of Shireen,” the statement said.
“The Israeli authorities are also responsible for the targeting of Al Jazeera producer Ali al-Samudi, who was also shot in the back while covering the same event, and he is currently undergoing treatment,” they added.
“We were going to film the Israeli army operation, and suddenly they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming,” al-Samoudi reported to their organization.
“The first bullet hit me, and the second bullet hit Shireen … there was no Palestinian military resistance at all at the scene,” he added.
The other journalist who was also shot, Shatha Hanaysha, the person standing next to Abu Akleh, also said that there were no active confrontations at that time and said that there were no Palestinian fighters. She alleges that they were directly targeted by the Israeli forces.
“We were four journalists. We were all wearing vests, all wearing helmets,” Hanaysha stated. “The [Israeli] occupation army did not stop firing even after she collapsed. I couldn’t even extend my arm to pull her because of the shots being fired. The army was adamant on shooting to kill.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described Abu Akleh’s killing as “blatant” and “cold-blooded.” He also directly blamed the Israeli forces for the murder of the journalist. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated that his Palestinian counterpart was making accusations without strong evidence and that the allegations he was spreading to the media were “unfounded.”
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz also stated that initial findings of the investigation showed that there was no evidence that it was the Israeli Defense Forces that had shot Abu Akleh. He later revealed and pointed to footage showing Palestinian fighters randomly shooting.
“We have seen footage of indiscriminate shooting by Palestinian terrorists, which is likely to have hit the journalist.”
However, the non-profit organization B’Tselem Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories investigated the footage and directly went to where the video above was shot. They compared this to where Abu Akleh was killed. They determined that it was impossible from the videos obtained by the Israeli forces that it was Palestinian gunfire that had killed the journalist.
A report from The Washington Post revealed that there was fighting happening between the Israelis and the Palestinians “hundreds of yards” from the location of the journalists.
“Down where the girl was killed, there was no confrontation at all,” a certain Ahmad Al Husari told The Post.
As of writing, it cannot be determined who actually shot the veteran journalist. However, the reason why the Palestinians are pointing to the Israelis for the killing is that Abu Akleh was known to be the voice of Palestinians who often reported on the plight of Palestinians. People allege that this may have been an effort by the Israelis to silence her.
Shireen was a veteran reporter, followed closely by those who care about the region. The Secretary spoke just one week ago on #WorldPressFreedomDay about the fundamental role journalists play. It’s heart-wrenching to see the killing of another journalist a week later. pic.twitter.com/lEf0aRZJWs
— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) May 11, 2022
Currently, Abu Akleh’s body has arrived in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, where a state memorial service, where her casket was decorated with their flag.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price issued his statement regarding the matter on Twitter, stating that:
“We are heartbroken by and strongly condemn the killing of American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank. The investigation must be immediate and thorough, and those responsible must be held accountable. Her death is an affront to media freedom everywhere.”
The problem with accusations made by the Palestinian Authority against Israel is that they have been caught repeatedly faking atrocities or perpetrating them themselves to blame Israel. Most infamously, the murders of Mohammed al-Dura, 12 years old along with his father by Palestinian forces in a deliberate attempt to blame their deaths on Israel.
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