Palestinian Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has been killed during an Israeli army raid in the northern West Bank town of Jenin. The 51-year-old veteran reporter was shot in the head while covering Israeli forces' operations in the town's refugee camp. Another Palestinian journalist, Ali al-Samudi, is hospitalised with gunshot wounds to the back. Both were clearly identified as journalists. Both Abu Akleh and al-Samudi were wearing blue bulletproof vests with the word "PRESS" on them.
Mass funeral of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin pic.twitter.com/bxQeGGkLSm— Middle East News (@Draganov313) May 11, 2022
Qatar's Al Jazeera has accused "Israeli occupation forces" of "cold-bloodedly" killing the journalist in a "blatant murder that violates international laws and norms". "Al Jazeera holds the Israeli government and the occupying forces responsible for Shireen's murder," the media outlet said in a statement. Similarly, the Arab channel calls on the international community to "condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces responsible for intentionally attacking and killing Shireen", while pledging "to legally prosecute the perpetrators and bring them to justice".
Al-Samudi stated from the hospital that "suddenly" Israeli forces began shooting at them without asking them to leave or to stop filming. "The first bullet hit me and the second bullet hit Shireen. There was no Palestinian military resistance at the scene," the journalist added, contradicting the version of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who points to "the considerable possibility that armed Palestinians, who fired wildly, were the ones who caused the journalist's unfortunate death".
´Wake up Shireen’. Thé moment Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was pronounced dead after being shot by Israel forces while reporting in Jenin, thé occupied West Bank. pic.twitter.com/YxRI5Ga60p— Arwa Ibrahim (@arwaib) May 11, 2022
Shatha Hanaysha, another journalist who was in the area, denies the Israeli version, assuring Al Jazeera that "there were no clashes or shootings". She says that when the shooting started, she and Abu Akleh ran into a tree to hide. "I reached the tree before Shireen. She fell to the ground," she recalls. Hanaysha also claims that she could not reach out to her because the soldiers "did not stop firing even after she fell". "The army was adamant about shooting to kill," she adds.
Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has offered the Palestinians a joint investigation into the "sad death of journalist Shirin Abu Akleh", writing on his Twitter account. "Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth," he added. Defence Minister Benny Gantz has made a similar point, saying Israeli soldiers "will never intentionally harm journalists".
Bennett also reaffirmed the need for an investigation to "reveal the truth". Meanwhile, Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar said in a statement that "the Palestinians rejected Israel's offer of a joint investigation". "I believe they refused because they have no interest in revealing the truth," he said. Ran Kochav, a spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), agreed, telling KAN radio station that Israel had proposed to the Palestinians to open a joint investigation. "If we really killed her, we will take responsibility, but that doesn't seem to be the case," he said.
This morning, in Jenin, terrorists heard saying: "They've hit one, they've hit a soldier, he's laying on the ground"— Israel Foreign Ministry (@IsraelMFA) May 11, 2022
But no IDF soldier was injured in Jenin
Palestinian terrorists, firing indiscriminately, are likely to have hit Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqla pic.twitter.com/nXNbVJrnkC
However, the Palestinian Authority's Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh denied on Twitter that the Israeli government had approached the Palestinian Authority for such an investigation. Al-Sheikh also blamed "the occupation government" for the murder of Abu Akleh and confirmed that the Palestinian Authority will refer the case to the International Criminal Court.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also condemned the journalist's murder and blamed Israeli forces for her death. "Targeting Shireen is a clear target of the truth, and [Israel] wants to cover up its crimes against the Palestinian people," stressed Fatah spokesman Osama al-Qawasami. "Israel wants to send a message to journalists around the world that the fate of anyone who wants to cover the truth will be shot dead," he added. Bennett, for his part, has condemned such statements, calling them "baseless accusations".
"I encourage a thorough investigation into the circumstances of his death and the wounding of at least one other journalist today in Jenin," US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides wrote on Twitter. Tor Wennesland, the UN Middle East peace envoy, has also called for an "immediate and thorough investigation and for those responsible to be held accountable".
Israel has carried out raids in the West Bank in recent weeks in response to a series of deadly attacks on Israeli citizens. The city of Jenin and in particular its refugee camp are sites where the Israeli army has carried out part of its operations.
The Association of Arab Journalists and Writers in Madrid has issued a statement calling for justice for the death of the Palestinian journalist. Below is the press release:
The Association of Arab Journalists and Writers in Madrid denounce the murder, carried out by the Israeli army, of Palestinian journalist Shereen Abu Akleh, a reporter for Al-Jazeera in Jenin (West Bank), which took place in the early hours of 11 May 2022 while she was reporting on the military operation in Jenin.
Akleh's cowardly murder has shocked Palestinian society and the media world. This tragedy reminds us of the murder of al-Jazeera correspondent Tareq Ayoub and Spanish journalist Jose Couso, both at the hands of the US military in Baghdad in 2003.
We demand an end to impunity for crimes committed by the army and governments, in this case the Israeli government, against Palestinian journalists and civilians. We want justice.
Violence against journalists compromises the rights to life and to freedom of thought and expression, whether of information professionals or of society as a whole. We call for an end to aggression against the press and journalists.
We call on the international community to pay immediate attention to this grave situation that plagues journalism. With Shereen Abu Akleh, more than 47 Palestinian journalists have been killed in Palestine since 2000, according to the Palestinian journalists' unions.
This crime qualified under international humanitarian law as a war crime confirms the criminal character of the Zionist occupation forces.
This crime must not go unnoticed. Let the international community take action so that the perpetrators of the crime are tried as war criminals.
We call on the world press to condemn unequivocally such a vile and horrendous crime against this veteran journalist.