A year after the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh

Shatha Hanaysha

Mondoweiss  /  May 11, 2023

If you ask me how I feel a year after Shireen Abu Akleh’s assassination, I would tell you that I feel angry because both Shireen and I died under the tree that day. Shireen awaits justice from heaven, while I wait for it down here on earth.

This is a post written by Palestinian journalist Shatha Hanaysha, who was standing beside the martyred Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as they both reported on an Israeli invasion of Jenin refugee camp on May 11, 2022. Both were clearly wearing their PRESS vests and protective gear when Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli forces, who continued to open fire on Hanaysha. Mondoweiss has translated and republished Hanaysha’s words with the author’s permission. 

I’ve written this statement for the media a year after Shireen Abu Akleh’s assassination:

If you were to ask me how I feel a year later, I would tell you that I feel angry. I feel angry because both Shireen and I died under the tree that day. Shireen awaits justice from heaven, while I wait for it down here on earth. I feel anger and betrayal, and it grows after every crime that is committed against Palestinians. I have nothing to add to what I said a year ago. Nothing has changed. Many things have happened in my country since then, yet no soldier has been held accountable for his crimes against the Palestinian people, the same as the soldier who killed Shireen and injured my colleague, Ali Samoudi, and continued to open fire towards me and Sharif al-Azb, who no matter what I say about him, I will not be able to do him justice, and I will owe him my life for as long as I live.

Where is that soldier now? He’s here, in Jenin, in Nablus, in Tulkarem, in Jericho — how many times did he open fire on Palestinians? How many of us did he kill? Is he standing at a checkpoint between the West Bank’s cities and hindering people’s movement?

As for myself, a year later I can tell you that I no longer have any faith in the international community in holding “Israel” accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people, against every Palestinian on the face of the earth. Nothing will deter the occupation or punish it, and there is nothing that can put a stop to it. In fact, it’s always finding new creative ways to kill Palestinians.

The crime of Shireen’s murder and the bullets shot at me — all of it was caught on video, containing all the evidence you need to point out the criminal. But all that happened was a hearing here, a condemnation there, and then what?

My message to the world and to the institutions of the international community is this: stop condemning, and stop expressing “sympathy” with us. We don’t want your sympathy. You can either begin to hold the criminal to account, or you can watch us killed in silence, because this occupation will not cease its killing for fear of your condemnations and your sympathies!

The attacks and violations against my journalist colleagues continue to this day, alongside the repeated repression, the beatings, and the expulsions. Nothing has changed. Go to any journalist in the field and ask them: do you feel rage that justice for Shireen has not been served, despite all the evidence against the killer? Are you disturbed by the thought that you could be killed on the job, and that no one will bring your killer to justice?

Dear Shireen,

After a year of your absence, I feel I’ve become closer to you. I’ve been following everything about you, and I have come to love all those who love you and who love to speak of you. In my room, here in Beirut, I have a picture of you smiling, so that wherever I stand I can see you looking at me with your warm smile, and now whenever I think of you, I think of you with that smile. That day fated us to always be together, alone. And ever since that day, I’ve felt your presence around me, always, in every moment.

My one regret is that life didn’t give me the opportunity to share with you the story of a young child by the name of Shatha, who would stand proudly and repeat the words you so often signed off on: “Shireen Abu Akleh, Al-Jazeera, Palestine.”

Shatha Hanaysha is a Palestinian journalist based in Jenin in the occupied West Bank