Vice / May 12, 2022
The Al-Jazeera journalist was shot in the head while reporting in the West Bank. Her death has ignited a chorus of global condemnation.
The death of prominent TV reporter Shireen Abu Akleh has been met with international outrage after she was shot in the head while on assignment in the occupied West Bank.
Al Jazeera, the broadcaster Abu Akleh worked for, accused Israel of deliberately targeting her while she was wearing a flak jacket marked “PRESS”.
The Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett suggested the shots that killed the 51-year-old could have been fired by armed Palestinians.
She was shot while covering Israeli Army raids on Palestinian homes in Jenin, a refugee camp that has been the focus of recent tensions.
Abu Akleh had covered the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians for over two decades on Al-Jazeera’s Arabic channel.
Ali Samoud, a producer working with Abu Akleh, survived a gunshot wound to the back.
An official funeral procession for the journalist was held in Ramallah, with thousands of people gathering in the compound of the presidential palace in the occupied West Bank to mourn her death.
The Palestinian Authority has refused to collaborate with Israel on an investigation, and said that its team will carry out a study into what happened and present the evidence to the US and Qatar.
President Mahmoud Abbas said he held Israel “fully responsible” for the death of Abu Akleh. He added, “Shireen was a voice of truth, a national voice, conveying the suffering of the mothers of martyrs and prisoners.”
Israeli officials have called the death of Abu Akleh an “unfortunate murder”.
“Israel’s security forces will continue to operate wherever necessary to prevent terrorism and the murder of Israelis,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted.
The White House joined calls for a thorough investigation. State Department Spokesman Ned Price said, “We send our deepest condolences to Shireen’s family, her friends and loved ones, and strongly condemn her killing as we do the killing of journalists around the world.”
He added, “We call for an immediate and thorough investigation and full accountability. Investigating attacks on independent media and prosecuting those responsible are of paramount importance.”
EU spokesperson Luis Bueno put out a video statement in Arabic on Twitter saying that the EU condemned the killing of Abu Akleh and offered messages of condolences to her family and colleagues.
“Now it is time to carry out a comprehensive and independent investigation into what happened and bring those responsible to justice,” he said.
In Doha, two skyscrapers were lit up with a photograph of Abu Akleh and the Palestinian flag on Wednesday night.
The British ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, joined in the calls for a transparent investigation and tweeted, “Journalists must be allowed to work safely and freely. I urge a rapid, thorough and transparent investigation.”
The United Nations Human Rights office said in a tweet that their team on the ground were verifying the facts. It said in a statement, “We are appalled at the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while covering an Israeli military operation in Jenin, Palestine. We urge an independent, transparent investigation into her killing. Impunity must end.”
Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO put out a statement saying, “The killing of a clearly identified press worker in a conflict area is a violation of international law. I call on the relevant authorities to investigate this crime and bring those responsible to justice.”
Human rights organization Amnesty International put out a statement calling on Israel to “end unlawful killings” of Palestinians.
Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said, “The killing of Al-Jazeera journalist Shirin Abu Akleh is a bloody reminder of the deadly system in which Israel locks Palestinians. Israel is killing Palestinians left and right with impunity. The international community must act to end Israel apartheid.”
Journalism groups have also expressed their outrage at her killing. PEN America, a writers’ organization, said it illustrated the danger many journalists face while doing their jobs.
Liesl Gerntholtz, Director of the PEN/Barbey Freedom To Write Center at PEN America, said, “For a journalist with a vest that clearly designated her as a member of the press to be shot in the head while reporting a story is a shocking affront. Her killing illustrates the dangers faced by journalists all over the world as they do their jobs.”
Mohammed Rasool is an Iraqi-Kurdish journalist