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Veteran Al Jazeera journalist killed by Israeli forces

May 11, 2022

By Annisa Essack

Shireen Abu Akleh, a TV correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic, was killed this morning by Israeli forces during an invasion of Jenin, a northern West Bank city occupied by Israel.

She was shot in the head by a live bullet, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, and rushed to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Abu Akleh was wearing a press vest and was standing with other journalists when she was killed. According to the ministry, another reporter, Ali Al-Samoudi, was also hit by a live bullet in the back. He is in stable condition.

Despite offering to conduct a joint investigation with Palestinian authorities, Israel’s military has sought to cast doubt on who was to blame, saying Abu Akleh was shot during a gun battle and may have been killed by Palestinians.

Al Jazeera’s Ramallah bureau chief Waleed al-Omari says it appears an Israeli sniper shot Abu Akleh. He explained that Abu Akleh was standing far from Palestinians protesting against Israel’s Jenin raid.

Al-Samoudi and other journalists at the scene claimed it was not Palestinian fighters who opened fire on the journalists, directly disputing the Israeli statement about firing coming from the Gaza Strip.

According to Shatha Hanaysha, a local journalist standing next to Abu Akleh when she was shot, there had been no clashes between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Public Prosecution of the State of Palestine said the investigation into the execution of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, as well as the targeting of journalist Ali Samoudi in Jenin camp, would be transferred to the International Criminal Court.

In a press release by the Palestinian Public Prosecution, it had begun the investigation processes into the killing of Abu Akleh and the targeting of Samoudi in Jenin Camp committed by the Israeli occupation forces.

For the prosecution, the case will be handled by the International Crimes Prosecution, a unit devoted to documenting crimes within the court’s jurisdiction, in preparation for referral to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC.

Earlier in the week, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), and the International Centre for Justice for Palestinians submitted a formal complaint to the International Criminal Court alleging “systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists”.

The killing has sparked an outpouring of condolences and condemnation, and calls for a thorough investigation to hold those responsible to account.

Lolwah Alkhater, Qatar’s deputy foreign minister, called the killing “state-sponsored Israeli terrorism” and called for an end to “unconditional support to Israel.”

The US ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, said on Twitter he was “very sad” to learn about the journalist’s killing and called for “a thorough investigation into the circumstances”.

Global media rights group the International Federation of Journalists strongly condemned the killing and demanded an “immediate investigation”.

Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General and Director General of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), wrote on Twitter that the killing of Abu Akleh “constitutes a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions that mandate the protection of civilians, and of UN Security Council resolution 2222 on the protection of journalists”.

Abu Akleh, a dual Palestinian-American national, was born and raised in Bethlehem, Jerusalem. She initially studied architecture at the University of Science and Technology in Jordan, then moved to a major in written journalism and obtained a bachelor’s degree from Yarmouk University in Jordan.

After graduating, she returned to Palestine and worked in several places such as UNRWA, Voice of Palestine Radio, Amman Satellite Channel, then the Miftah Foundation, and Monte Carlo Radio. Later, she moved to work in 1997 with Al Jazeera and was one of its first field correspondents.

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