In a blatant murder, the Israeli occupation forces assassinated in cold blood Al Jazeera reporter and Palestinian iconic journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, targeting her with live fire early this morning, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, while conducting her journalistic duty covering the Israeli occupation forces storming of Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.
Abu Akleh was clearly wearing a press jacket that identifies her a journalist when she was deliberately and directly shot near her ear in an ear not covered by the hamlet she was wearing.
Al Jazeera Media Network condemned the heinous crime, holding the Israeli government and the occupation forces responsible for the killing of Shireen.
Israel Blames Palestinian Gunmen
The Israeli occupation has blamed Palestinian gunmen of shooting Abu Akleh during the armed clashes.
However, the Israeli army’s narrative was totally denied by the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem).
“This morning, B’Tselem’s field researcher in Jenin documented the exact locations in which the Palestinian gunman depicted in a video distributed by the Israeli army, fired, as well as the exact location in which Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed,” B’Tselem tweeted.
It reiterated: “Documentation of Palestinian gunfire distributed by Israeli military cannot be the gunfire that killed Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.”
B’Tselem spokesman, Karim Jobran, told Anadolu that the location appeared in the video distributed by the Israeli officials is far from the location where Abu Akleh was killed.
Jobran said that B’Tselem has conducted an initial investigation, and will conduct a thorough one soon.
“The information we have,” he said, “proves that the Israeli army’s narrative is untrue.”
Eyewitness account of Al Jazeera journalist’s shooting
The Palestinian health ministry has announced Abu Akleh’s death after being hit by a bullet to the head.
Another Palestinian journalist was also shot by a live bullet in the back, the health ministry said.
Ali Samoudi, who works for Al Jazeera as well, was reported in stable condition.
Al Jazeera’s Palestine bureau Chief, Walid Al Omari, affirmed that Abu Akleh was shot dead by an Israeli sniper despite wearing a vest with ‘PRESS’ insignia.
Palestinian journalist Shatha Hanaysha was with Abu Akleh when they came under fire in Jenin. She describes the joy at working with the veteran and her fear when Israeli troops began shooting.
“There’s a raid in the camp, do you want to cover it?” my colleague Mujahed al-Saadi asked, she narrated.
”Of course,” I replied. I got ready and headed to Jenin from my home in Qabatya town, a 10-minute car ride away.
When I arrived near the Return Roundabout, a major monument in the city that leads to the camp, I put on my press helmet and body armour, as did the other journalists with me.
Outside the camp, Jenin was a serene city. It was a normal morning, with people walking and driving to work peacefully.
“There’s nothing to fear,” one passerby who came from the camp told us as we put on our vests. “Barely anything is happening in there, it’s calm.”
Israeli forces had stormed the camp and surrounded the house of Abdallah al-Hosari, who they killed on 1 March, to arrest his brother.
Before we advanced on foot towards the camp to cover the raid and a subsequent gunfire exchange between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters, we had stopped to wait for Al Jazeera journalists.
Moments later, Shireen Abu Akleh arrived with her crew.
Here was the journalist whose reports I grew up imitating, from voice tone to hand gestures, and I dreamt of doing what she was always so good at doing. Here she was, going on the same missions as I was.
“Good morning,” Abu Akleh said, as she, myself, two more reporters, and two cameramen got ready.
I felt a strange aura around her at that moment. I can’t find the right word to describe what I felt. She was floating. She was happy.
We made ourselves visible to the soldiers who were stationed hundreds of metres away from us. We remained still for around 10 minutes to make sure they knew we were there as journalists.
When no warning shots were fired at us, we moved uphill towards the camp.
Out of nowhere, we heard the first gunshot.
I turned around and saw my colleague Ali al-Sammoudi on the floor. A bullet hit him in the back but his wound was not serious and he managed to move away from the fire.
A scene of chaos followed.
My colleague Mujahed jumped over a small fence nearby to stay away from the bullets.
“Come over here,” he told me and Shireen, but we were on the other side of the street and couldn’t risk crossing.
“Al-Sammoudi is hit,” Shireen shouted, standing right behind me, as we both stood with our backs to a wall to take cover.
Right then, another bullet pierced Shireen’s neck, and she fell to the ground right next to me.
I called her name but she didn’t move. When I tried to extend my arm to reach her, another bullet was fired, and I had to stay hiding behind a tree.
That tree saved my life, as it was the only thing obstructing the soldiers’ view of me.
“Stay back, stay back!” my colleagues shouted, as bullets flew every time I tried to check Shireen’s pulse.
Out of nowhere a camp resident managed to get to us with a car from an alleyway out of range from the Israeli soldiers. He quickly pulled me and Shireen’s body in and drove us to the hospital.
World Mourns Shireen Abu Akleh
The killing of prominent Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh at the hands of Israeli forces triggered an outpouring of condemnation and condolences.
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said she was ‘appalled’, and added that ‘impunity must end’.
UN Spacial Coordinator for the Middle East also addressed the murder. “I strongly condemn the killing of Al-Jazeera’s reporter, Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot with live fire this morning while covering an Israeli security forces’ operation in Jenin … I call for an immediate and thorough investigation and for those responsible to be held accountable. Media workers should never be targeted.” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland said.
The European Union also expressed its shock. We are deeply shocked by the killing of AlJazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who was reporting on ISF incursions in Jenin. We express our deepest condolences to her family and call for a swift and independent investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice,” EU Arabic spokesperson for MENA Luis Miguel Bueno said.
Human rights groups also condemned the brutal killing. Amnesty International said the killing was ‘a bloody reminder of the deadly system in which Israel locks Palestinians’.
Human Rights Watch said the killing was part of a systematic approach by Israel towards journalists covering the occupation.
“It’s, of course, not a one-off event. We know that Israeli forces systematically have used excessive force. This is an event that needs to be understood in the context of this systemic practice and the killings of many other Palestinian journalists.” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch.