Israel’s assassination of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was not the first, nor will it be the last

An Israeli air strike destroys the builiding housing the offices of The Associated Press in Gaza City (AFP via AP)

Adnan Abu Amer

Middle East Monitor  / May 13, 2022

Israeli occupation’s assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian journalist working at Al-Jazeera News Channel, was not spontaneous or arbitrary, or an exception to the norms. This assassination is a rather deliberate and approved approach since the beginning of the conflict. The occupation has always regarded the camera, pen, notebook and microphone all to be hostile weapons that must be targeted as they are no less dangerous than guns, bombs and bullets.

Since the outbreak of the first Palestinian popular uprising, the occupation has sought to impose a media blackout. It reduced the importance of the confrontations, gave misleading information about the number of martyrs and tried to keep such news away from the front pages of newspapers and news bulletins.

Later, the tactics of the Israeli occupation changed, and it started portraying confrontations with the Palestinians as if they were armed clashes between the two sides. It has done so to justify the violent, indiscriminate bombing of residential neighbourhoods. Soon, these mass demonstrations became a rich substance for Israeli distortion, so Israel worked to rewrite the events through teams that can manipulate minds and feelings, isolate the Palestinian uprising, and confine it to the framework of Palestinian “violence” directed against the Israelis.

The Israeli occupation, its propaganda and its diplomatic officials started describing the uprisings and confrontations through false assumptions, paving the way for Israeli soldiers to target everything that is Palestinian, including journalists and media workers, as in what happened with the martyr, Shireen Abu Akleh.

With these false claims that Palestinians are the aggressors and Israelis are being attacked, and that Palestinians have started the confrontations so the Israeli soldiers are defending themselves, Israel has been claiming that all the crimes committed by the army are a reaction to Palestinian “violence”. This, however, is far from the truth and objectivity, and is an attempt to justify the occupation’s actions and acquitting it. For example, Israeli correspondents often accused the Friday sermon at Al-Aqsa Mosque to include inciting phrases that helped inflame the emotions of the worshippers, while overlooking the provocative scenes of Israeli soldiers armed with heavy weapons, searching the worshippers in a humiliating manner!

At the same time, the Israeli military censorship is an important link in the chain of tightening its grip on everything that is reported in the coverage of Palestinian events, with one aim in mind – which is not to condemn or indict the occupation, even if it commits a clear crime in broad daylight, and in the presence of witnesses, as in the case of martyr, Shireen Abu Akleh. This censorship dictates specific positions with regard to security issues and, despite the great development that the Israeli media has witnessed in daily discussions and political affairs, the security side still controls it, imposing itself strongly on it, citing security interests as the reason.

As an essential part of the censorship process, the Israeli occupation uses a number of selective terms in semantics and expression, including: “Judea and Samaria”, instead of the occupied West Bank; “saboteurs and terrorists” to refer to guerrillas; “Palestinians” instead of the Palestinian people; “preventive operations” instead of incursions; “engineering works” instead of bulldozing agricultural land; “security steps” instead of revenge and punishment and “local thwarting operations” instead of assassinating Palestinians.

These terms contribute to the promotion of the theatrical play prepared by the army. Although the army is the one which commits the crimes, through this vocabulary it produces a play that hides details of its crimes, and the media volunteers to promote this farce.

At the same time, Palestinian journalists have been subject to a large share of Israeli incitement against them, by persecuting them and preventing them from fulfilling their professional role as part of the confrontation waged by the occupation against the Palestinians. Therefore, the Israeli occupation plays a flagrant incitement role against journalists, which confirms that the Israeli killer tries to justify his crimes by slandering the victims and accusing them of being the cause of a crime they deserve! This reminds us of the famous saying of Golda Meir when she said: “I will not forgive the Palestinians because they force our soldiers to kill them.” This is like Israeli accusations of martyr, Shireen, of going to a sensitive security area of ​​Jenin camp!

There are several methods adopted by the Israeli occupation to promote lies against journalists. These include questioning whether Palestinians were killed at the hands of soldiers and settlers, fabricating lies about the circumstances of their martyrdom, and fabricating a false balance between the occupier and the people under occupation, between the killer and the ones killed; between two opposites that do not meet.

At the same time, the Israeli occupation has always targeted the media and the press, which play a professional role in covering the events of the conflict. It has adopted several methods to promote the official position, by omitting the Palestinian narrative, by not bringing Palestinian speakers on talk shows but, rather, Israelis talking to each other and accusing Palestinians who have no one defending them. Meanwhile, Arab media, including Al-Jazeera, continues to host Israeli speakers, claiming to allow space for all diverse points of view.

All information covering events and news reports is provided by official government and military sources, without any reporting on the suffering of the Palestinian people, in a clear direction to keep Palestinians completely isolated from the world. Even when talking about Palestinian victims, they are viewed as numbers. The Israeli broadcast outlets, audio, visual and print, report the number of dead and wounded, all of whom were shot by the army, without mentioning their names, ages, places of residence, or the circumstances of their martyrdom.

What is more dangerous than all the above is that the Israeli occupation has practiced a strange propaganda policy since the start of the conflict with the Palestinians, based on blaming their victims. To the Israeli occupation, they did not die because the Israeli army killed them but, rather, because their bodies “faced” the bullets, as stated by one of the Israeli journalists. This means that the occupation does not care about the killing of Palestinian victims, but rather the energy it takes an Israeli soldier to kill them. Thus, he does not look at the lifeless corpse, but at how much energy it took to kill this victim!

Immediately after the martyrdom of Shireen Abu Akleh, various Israeli comments came out justifying her killing, claiming that there is no such thing as a “clean war”. Therefore, Israel should not regret the unintended injury to Palestinian civilians, including journalists, in the context of its war against the resistance.

Adnan Abu Amer is the head of the Political Science Department at the University of the Ummah in Gaza