War journalism comes with a cost. As thrilling as it may sound, the risks associated with the profession are endless. That’s what happened with the veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh amid Israeli raids on the West Bank.
The Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist was shot by Israeli forces while covering an Israeli military raid in the city of Jenin, in the northern occupied West Bank today morning. Her death was confirmed by the Palestine Health Ministry and later by Israeli sources.
Shot in the Face…
As per the Al Jazeera reports, Shireen Abu Akleh, 51 was shot in the face by a single bullet fired by the Israeli armed forces. The report states that another journalist, Ali al-Samoudi was also wounded in the back.
We have offered the Palestinians a joint pathological investigation into the sad death of journalist Shireen Abu Aqla. Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth.
— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid🟠 (@yairlapid) May 11, 2022
However, the Israeli Defense Force released a statement narrating that they have been operating in the area to arrest suspects in terrorist activities. At the time of the incident, both Palestinian suspects and Israeli forces were heavily firing. The IDF’s statement reads as under:
“As part of the activity in the Jenin refugee camp, suspects fired heavily at the force and threw explosives. The force responded by firing. Hits were detected. The possibility that journalists were hit, possibly by Palestinian gunfire, is being investigated.”
Israel’s foreign minister Yair Lapid has called for a joint investigation into the death of a veteran journalist. He tweeted, “We have offered the Palestinians a joint pathological investigation into the sad death of journalist Shireen Abu Aqla. Journalists must be protected in conflict zones and we all have a responsibility to get to the truth.”
The US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides also tweeted about the sad demise of Shireen who was based in Jerusalem for the global news channel and held dual Palestinian and U.S. nationality. He wrote:
Very sad to learn of the death of American and Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh of @AJArabic @AJEnglish. I encourage a thorough investigation into the circumstances of her death and the injury of at least one other journalist today in Jenin.
— Ambassador Tom Nides (@USAmbIsrael) May 11, 2022
“Very sad to learn of the death of American and Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. I encourage a thorough investigation into the circumstances of her death and the injury of at least one other journalist today in Jenin.”
Shireen’s friends and colleagues are deeply saddened by the death of a fierce journalist whom they describe as a brave and kind reporter with an “infectious laugh”. She gave voice to the struggles of Palestinians over a career spanning nearly three decades.
The eyewitness fellow journalist Shatha Hanaysha says journalists at the scene were pinned down by snipers when Abu Akleh was shot. She revealed to Al Jazeera, “We stood together in a collective way as journalists, then we started moving. We were shocked by the live ammunition fired at us, we reached an area that did not allow us to withdraw.”
Shatha added, “We were just facing the snipers. If they were not willing to kill some of us, they could have started shooting before we arrived in this narrow area. I see this as a clear assassination of journalists.”
About Shireen Abu Akleh
Shireen Abu Akleh was born in Jerusalem in a family of Arab Christians from Bethlehem. She attended secondary school in Beit Hanina and matriculated at the Jordan University of Science and Technology to study architecture.
However, she later transferred to the Yarmouk University of Jordan where she completed her graduation with a bachelor’s degree in print journalism. After this, she returned to Palestine to contribute to the welfare of her people.
Initially, she worked as a journalist for Radio Monte Carlo and Voice of Palestine. She also worked for UNRWA, a UN agency that supports the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees. In addition to this, she worked with the Amman Satellite Channel, and MIFTAH.
Shireen started her career with Al Jazeera in 1997 and became well-known for reporting on their Arabic-language channel. She lived in East Jerusalem and reported major events related to Palestine like the Second Intifada (the Palestinian rising against Israel). She also covered Israeli politics. She continued her role with Al Jazeera until she was killed today by the Israeli forces.
The Case Might go to ICC
IFJ GS @abellanger49 on the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh 👇
"While the full details of this horrific murder are still emerging, testimony from journalists who were with her when she was killed point towards this being another deliberate… (1/4) pic.twitter.com/ovz8jJdBxX
— IFJ (@IFJGlobal) May 11, 2022
Anthony Bellanger, the secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called Abu Akleh’s killing a “deliberate systematic targeting of a journalist”. He said, “Yet again journalists, wearing press vests, clearly identified were targeted by Israeli snipers. We will seek to add this case to the ICC complaint submitted by the IFJ, detailing such systematic targeting.”
So there is a possibility that the case might go to the International Criminal Court. However, there is a big problem here. Israel is not a member of the ICC and disputes its jurisdiction on the basis that Palestine is not a sovereign state capable of being a party to the Rome Statute.
The former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly condemned the allegations and investigation by ICC into Palestine stating that it does not have the authority to investigate them. But that is another never-ending debate just like the perpetual war between Israel and Palestine.
The EU delegation has also expressed shock over the killing of Abu Akleh, calling for “a swift and independent investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.” However, an Israeli army official stated that they do not aim at journalists.
In May 2021, the Israeli Air Force took over a tower block in Gaza housing the offices of the Associated Press, Al Jazeera and the Middle East Eyes. It was reported that three heavy missiles hit the 12-story building leading to a collapse.
However, it was marked by protests and police riot control, rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). If I have to give a personal opinion, the never-ending war is no more religious. It has now become a matter of greed.
The testimony from an eyewitness from the said incident reveals that Shireen was assassinated. Today, we have lost a genuine journalist who reported nothing but the truth. We don’t know what the fate of this conflict would be, but yes, several others are going to lose their lives on both sides. What do you think?