Latest Abu Akleh killing updates: Palestine rejects Israeli probe

News from May 11: Palestine says it won’t accept a probe by ‘occupying authority’ into Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing.

Palestinian mourners in Ramallah
Palestinian mourners carry the body of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh out of the office of Al Jazeera after friends and colleagues paid their respects, in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah [Nasser Nasser/AP Photo]
  • Calls for an independent investigation into the killing of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh grow amid global outrage.
  • Abu Akleh has been shot and killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank.
  • The 51-year-old was covering an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp when she was shot in the face by a single bullet, despite wearing a press vest.
  • Another Palestinian journalist, Ali al-Samoudi, was wounded in the back but is in a stable condition.
  • Al Jazeera, in a statement, said Abu Akleh was “assassinated in cold blood” and called on the international community to hold Israeli forces responsible.

INTERACTIVE Shireen Abu Akleh killed

The live blog is now closed; thank you for joining us. Below are the updates from May 11:

US gov’t should investigate Abu Akleh’s killing: Rashida Tlaib

US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has called on the American government to investigate the killing of Abu Akleh, saying that Washington should not allow “the same people committing those war crimes to do the investigation,” referring to Israel.

“We need to investigate, ourselves, the killing of an American citizen. Somebody that was out there being a guardian of truth and doing her job was murdered by an apartheid government that we continue to fund with unconditional aid,” Tlaib told Al Jazeera in a TV interview.

Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association pays tribute to Abu Akleh

The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA) has called for a “transparent and independent investigation into the actions that led” to Abu Akleh’s killing, stressing that the perpetrators of the shooting must be held accountable.

“Journalists around the globe are increasingly under attack,” the group said in a statement. “Shireen’s death is a reminder of the dangers they face in trying to expose the truth. Her courage and determination to report the Palestinian story is a tribute to our profession.”

US activists slam ‘impunity’ for Israeli abuse, urge independent probe

Palestinian rights advocates in the United States have called on the Biden administration to demand an independent probe into the killing of Abu Akleh, saying that Israel should not be allowed to investigate itself.

Ahmad Abuznaid, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said calls for investigations are “empty gestures” if the probe is to be left for Israel.

“You can’t ask the Israelis to investigate themselves when they’ve been abusing human rights for over 70 years and expect them to arrive at a different result that they’ve been arriving after all these decades,” Abuznaid told Al Jazeera.

Read more here.

US legislators condemn killing of Abu Akleh

Several US lawmakers have condemned the killing of Abu Akleh and called for a probe into the incident.

“Shocking to learn that Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, a 51-year old U.S. citizen, was shot in the face and killed while reporting in the occupied West Bank,” Congresswoman Betty McCollum wrote on Twitter.

“This must be condemned and investigated, and there must be accountability.”

Congressman Mark Pocan called the killing “shameful”.

Initial probe by Israeli army says Abu Akleh was 150 metres away from troops when shot dead

An initial investigation by the Israeli army has showed that Abu Akleh was about 150 metres away from Israeli forces when she was fatally shot in the head, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

The bullet was 5.56 millimeters in diameter and was shot from an M16 rifle, Haaretz said.

According to the probe, it is “still unclear” whether Akleh was killed by Israeli fire or “Palestinian gunmen”, it said.

Palestinian officials and the Al Jazeera Media Network insist that Abu Akleh was shot by Israeli forces, while other journalists who were at the scene also say she was shot by Israeli fire.

Hundreds protest against Abu Akleh’s killing in Haifa, Nazareth

Some 200 Palestinians have gathered to protest against the killing of Abu Akleh in Haifa and Nazareth in the north, local media reported.

Waving Palestinian flags, they shouted slogans decrying the slain journalist’s killing and held signs that read: “Shireen Abu Akleh’s message will not fall.”

Abu Akleh’s killing a ‘crushing blow’ to truth and justice, Queen Rania says

Jordan’s Queen Rania has called the killing of Abu Akleh “a crushing blow to truth and justice”.

In a Twitter post, she wrote: “Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqla repeatedly put her life on the line to bring her people’s stories to light. Her killing is a crushing blow to truth and justice, but no bullet can kill a cause or crush a people’s spirit. May she rest in peace.”

Abu Akleh a ‘reporting legend’, White House Press Secretary says

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has described Abu Akleh as a “reporting legend”.

In a series of Tweets, she said: “We call for an immediate and thorough investigation and full accountability.”

“Her death is a tragic loss and an affront to media freedom everywhere.”

Autopsy reveals Abu Akleh suffered skull fractures

Abu Akleh suffered a cerebral laceration and skull fractures after being shot directly in the head, a Palestinian pathologist has said.

“The bullet has caused a complete laceration of the brain and skull,” Rayyan al-Ali, director of the Forensic Medicine Institute at the Al-Najah University, told a press conference after conducting an autopsy in Nablus.

He said Abu Akleh was shot at “a range of more than one metre”, adding that the bullet will be examined by a crime lab to determine what type of weapon was used.

Journalists in Syria’s Idlib honour Abu Akleh

Some 30 journalists in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province have paid tribute to Abu Akleh.

“We were shocked by the news of the killing of Shireen who was a witness to Israeli crimes for 24 years,” Syrian journalist Salwa Abdul Rahman told Al Jazeera from the border town of Atmeh.

The northwest Syria-based Association of Syrian Journalists in a statement expressed their condolences to Shireen’s family, friends and colleagues.

“Many of us grew up listening to her voice and watching her coverage,” Omar Haj Ahmad, the association’s president told Al Jazeera.

Graffiti artist Aziz Al Asmar painted a mural to honour slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Idlib [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

Palestine will ‘not accept’ a probe by Israel, UN ambassador says

Palestine’s UN ambassador Riyad Mansour has said his country will “not accept” an investigation by the “Israeli occupying authority” and has held the Israeli army responsible for the “assassination” of Abu Akleh.

Adressing reporters at the UN headquarters in New York, Mansour said: “The story of the Israeli side does not hold water, it is fictitious and it is not in line with reality and we do not accept to have an investigation on this issue with those who are the criminals in conducting this event itself.”

“We expect that an investigation takes place. Our desire and position is that it has to be internationally credible.”

Killing of Abu Akleh an ‘horrific tragedy’, US House Speaker says

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called the killing of Abu Akleh an “horrific tragedy”.

In a statement on Twitter, Pelosi said a “thorough, objective investigation is needed now”.

US State Dept ‘welcomes’ investigation announced by Israeli army

Addressing reporters in Washington, DC, US Department of State spokesman Ned Price called for an “immediate and thorough investigation and full accountability”.

When asked whether the US would support an international investigation, Price repeated: “Israel has the wherewithal to conduct a thorough investigation”.

His remarks come as calls for an independent and objective investigation grow, with Palestinians voicing concern over the outcomes of any probe involving Israeli authorities.

Abu Akleh’s colleagues hold moment of silence outside Washington, DC bureau

Colleagues of Abu Akleh have gathered outside Al Jazeera’s Washington, DC office in a show of solidarity, where about two dozen people held a moment of silence while carrying pictures of the late journalist.

“We are here to show solidarity, our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh worked for Al Jazeera for about two decades, she was known throughout the network both as an amazing human being and as an intrepid journalist,” Al Jazeera’s Washington, DC bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara said.

Foukara said he hoped a fair, credible and neutral investigation will be conducted.

Washington DC office
Colleagues of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh gather outside Al Jazeera’s Washington, DC office in a show of solidarity [Jihan Abdalla/Al Jazeera]

Palestinians in besieged Gaza Strip mourn Abu Akleh’s killing

Dozens of journalists and representatives of media organisations in Gaza city have come together to condemn the killing Abu Akleh.

A vigil was organised in solidarity with the slain journalist at the Al Jazeera office building, which was bombed to rubble by Israel last May.

Read more here.

Palestinians gather in front of Al Jazeera bureau in Gaza to protest Israeli killing of Al Jazeera Correspondent
Palestinians gather in front of the Al Jazeera bureau in Gaza to protest against Israel’s killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

Israel has ‘track record’ of targeting Palestinian journalists, ICJP says

In a statement, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) said Israeli forces have a “track record of employing lethal force and systematically targeting Palestinian journalists with complete lack of accountability”.

“Action by the international community is essential to end the unlawful killing and wounding of journalists by the Israeli forces,” it said.

The statement came days after the ICJP, along with the International Federation of Journalists and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate filed a formal complaint with the International Criminal Court alleging “systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists”.

At least 18 journalists killed since 1992 in Israel and the OPT, CPJ says

Sherif Mansour, MENA programme coordinator for CPJ, said the committee has documented at least 18 cases since 1992 of journalists being killed in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, adding there has been “no justice” in any of these cases.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mansour called for a comprehensive and transparent investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing.

“The timing is crucial here because it’s happening exactly one year after the UN asked for a probe into the Israeli authorities’ actions against at least 28 media outlets last year,” Mansour told Al Jazeera. “We are hoping this case informs the UN report, but also will encourage Western capitals to raise these issues directly with Israeli officials.”

Israel wants to ‘assassinate the truth’, Husam Zomlot says

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom, has said Israel wants to ‘assassinate the truth’ and journalism.

“She [Abu Akleh] is not the first, and regrettably might not be the last Palestinian journalist to be murdered, assassinated by the Israeli occupation,” Zomlot told Al Jazeera.

“It’s not only killing the body of Shireen, it’s killing the spirit of Shireen, the message of Shireen, the idea of Shireen, it is killing the truth,” he said.

Five Palestinians injured, others detained in Beit Hanina: local media

At least five Palestinians have been injured during confrontations with armed Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina in occupied East Jerusalem, according to local media reports.

The Palestinian Red Crescent was quoted as saying that a team of medics was dealing with five injuries on the ground, adding that one was “taken to hospital for further treatment”.

At least three Palestinians have been detained as crowds gathered to protest Abu Akleh’s killing in front of her family home.


UN demands probe into killing of Abu Akleh

The UN human rights office has said it was “appalled” at the killing of Abu Akleh and demanded a transparent investigation into her death.

“We are appalled at the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while covering an Israeli military operation in Jenin, Palestine,” UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet’s office said on Twitter, adding: “We urge an independent, transparent investigation into her killing. Impunity must end.”

Abu Akleh’s killing ‘constitutes grave breach’ of Geneva Conventions: RSF

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”.

“RSF is disappointed by Israeli Foreign Minister @yairlapid’s proposal that his country take part in a joint investigation into the circumstances of the journalist’s death: an independent international investigation must be launched,” Deloire said.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib calls for moment of silence

Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has called for a ‘moment of silence’ in the US House of Representatives.

“People woke up to the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, and I would like to do a moment of silence as we heard the shocking news of this journalist of over 20 years – a Palestinian-American, killed,” she said as she fought back tears while addressing the house.

Journalists gather in Beirut to honour Abu Akleh

Dozens of journalists and media workers from Lebanon’s Alternative Syndicate of the Press have gathered in downtown Beirut to honour Abu Akleh.

The syndicate’s coordinator Elsy Moufarrej described Abu Akleh as an “icon”, and left a lasting impact on Palestinians and journalists everywhere.

“The legacy Shireen left us is hundreds of hours of reporting that documented the crimes of the Israeli occupation,” Moufarrej told Al Jazeera.

The syndicate also called for an international investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing.

Journalists from Lebanon’s Alternative Syndicate of the Press lit candles and paid tribute to killed Palestinian Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, condemning the Israeli authorities and calling for an international investigation.
Journalists from Lebanon’s Alternative Syndicate of the Press lit candles and paid tribute to slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, condemning the Israeli authorities and calling for an international investigation [Kareem Chehayeb/Al Jazeera]

Five things to know about the killing of Abu Akleh

The Al Jazeera veteran reporter was hit by a live bullet as she was covering an Israeli military raid in the city of Jenin.

Here are five things you should know about her tragic death.

‘No possibility whatsoever’ that Palestinians shot Abu Akleh

Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, said there was “no exchange of fire” at the scene of Abu Akleh’s shooting.

There is “no possibility whatsoever that Palestinians have shot Shireen Abu Akleh,” Barghouti told Al Jazeera. “The Israeli army always uses these excuses to cover up the crimes they are committing against Palestinians including Palestinian journalists.”

European Union calls for ‘thorough, independent investigation’

The EU has strongly condemned the killing of Abu Akleh called for an investigation.

The chief spokesperson for the EU diplomatic service, Peter Stano, said in an official statement it is significant that a “thorough, independent investigation clarifies all the circumstances of these incidents as soon as possible and that those responsible are brought to justice”.

White House calls for ‘thorough investigation’ into Abu Akleh’s killing

White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, has condemned the killing of Abu Akleh.

In a statement, she said: “We call for a thorough investigation to determine the circumstances of her death. Investigating attacks on independent media and prosecuting those responsible are of paramount importance.”

We will continue to promote media freedom and protect journalists ability to do their jobs without fear of violence, threats to their lives, or safety or unjust detention.”

Abu Akleh is the 12th Al Jazeera journalist to be killed on the job

Since launching in 1996, 12 Al Jazeera journalists have been killed in the line of duty.

INTERACTIVE Al Jazeera journalists killed on the front lines

‘Palestinians do not have faith in any Israeli investigation’

Despite numerous calls for a thorough investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing, Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim said that the Palestinians she has spoken to do not believe that there will be accountability.

“No one I’ve spoken to this morning believes that … there’s going to be justice for Shireen,” Ibrahim said from Ramallah.

“This is what makes the hurt and the pain deeper, that people know there’s not going to be any accountability towards those who killed her,” she said.

US State Department calls for ‘immediate, thorough’ investigation

US Department of State spokesman Ned Price has condemned the killing of Abu Akleh and called for an ‘immediate and thorough’ investigation.

In a statement on Twitter, Price added that “those responsible must be held accountable”.

US ambassador to UN calls for ‘transparent investigation’

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield has called for a
“transparent investigation” into the killing of Abu Akleh.

Speaking to reporters, she said: “It was really, really horrifying. She was well respected. She was doing her job, the jobs that you all do every single day and I just want to express my condolences to her family, her friends or colleagues.”

“We have to ensure that we get to the bottom of her other killing,” she added.

Israeli army says unclear who fired bullet, backing away from earlier claims

Israel’s military chief has said it is now unclear who fired the bullet that killed Abu Akleh, backing away from earlier claims that she was likely killed by “Palestinian gunmen”.

Aviv Kochavi said that “at this stage, we cannot determine by whose fire she was harmed and we regret her death.”

Thousands gather to honour Abu Akleh in Ramallah

Thousands of people have gathered in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah to honour Abu Akleh as her body arrived in an ambulance from Nablus.

Friends, colleagues, and family members of Abu Akleh gathered in front of Al Jazeera’s offices upon the arrival of her body.

Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim, reporting from Ramallah, said: “We can … see the body is being taken out of the ambulance, to enter here at this small room, the ground floor of AJ’s offices.”

“We’re expecting her colleagues, friends, family, loved ones, to bid her the final farewell,” Ibrahim said, adding that it was a “very difficult situation”.

“We’re also hearing crowds chanting slogans in defiance, saying ‘we will fight for Shireen’.”

CPJ calls for swift, transparent investigation

In a statement, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on authorities to conduct a “swift, immediate, and transparent investigation” into the killing Abu Akleh.

“We are shocked and strongly condemn the killing of the prominent Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank while doing her job and while clearly identified as a journalist,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator, Sherif Mansour.

“We call for an immediate and thorough investigation into her killing. Journalists must be able to do their jobs safely and freely without being a target,” he added.

‘No protection for journalists here’

Christine Rinawi, a correspondent for Palestine TV, said Abu Akleh represented a fountain of knowledge in the world of journalism.

“I’ve been a journalist in Jerusalem for more than 12 years – I learned from Shireen on all levels, not just journalism,” Rinawi told Al Jazeera.

“We lost Shireen because the killing of Palestinians has become an easy matter. There are no words to explain the pain of what every Palestinian and Arab journalist is going through, and especially those who worked with her and saw her high professionalism and manners.”

Rinawi said that instead of reporting on the news, journalists have become the news.

“There is no protection for journalists here,” she said, adding that she was arrested by Israeli forces nine times within the span of a year and a half.

(Al Jazeera)

Amnesty: Israel must end unlawful killings

In a statement, rights group Amnesty International called for an end to Israel’s “unlawful killings” and other crimes of apartheid against the Palestinians.

“The killing of veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is a bloody reminder of the deadly system in which Israel locks Palestinians,” said Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Palestinians have been killed or injured as a result of the Israeli forces’ use of excessive force when policing protests or carrying out search and arrest raids, the statement continued, in cases that amount to extrajudicial executions – a crime under international law.

Another journalist and witness recounts moment of shooting

Mujahed al-Saadi, a Palestinian journalist that was part of the group of reporters going into the Jenin refugee camp, said he was waiting for his colleagues to arrive before the shooting began.

“We were waiting for our colleagues to enter the refugee camp,” he said. “We chose a point that did not have confrontations between the Israeli army and the armed fighters. We waited for Shireen to put on all of her safety gear. She then reached us then we moved a few metres.

“Then within seconds, there was the first shot. I told them that we are being targeted, that we’ve been shot at. I turned and found Shireen on the ground. I found Shatha [Hanaysha] shielding herself by a tree and screaming. The shooting continued for more than three minutes. [Al Jazeera journalist] Ali [al-Samoudi] was injured, he was able to cross the street and get to a point of safety. The shooting towards Shatha continued while she was standing under the tree.

“We could not provide first aid to Shireen. The youth in the street came to us and tried to pull Shireen out but were also shot at. Whenever anyone moved forward, they were shot at.”

Israeli police raid Abu Akleh’s home in Jerusalem

Israeli forces have raided Abu Akleh’s home in occupied East Jerusalem, and have confiscated Palestinian flags and prevented the playing of nationalistic songs.

Videos seen by Al Jazeera show friends and family members shouting at Israeli police to leave the house.

A journalist at the scene said the mourners managed to push the forces outside of the house, but remain stationed in the area.

Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau chief: Abu Akleh was targeted by ‘direct shot’

Walid al-Omari, the Al Jazeera bureau chief in Jerusalem, said it was clear the bullet that killed Abu Akleh was shot by an Israeli sniper.

“The eyewitnesses told us the bullet was shot from where the Israeli occupation soldiers were located,” he said.

“It is a big shock because the journalists were in an open area that was away from [Israeli] military confrontation with Palestinian resistance,” he said.

PA rejects Israeli participation in investigating Abu Akleh’s death

The spokesman of the Palestinian Authority, Ibrahim Milhim, said his government rejects any role for Israel in an investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing.

“Let me ask, when does the criminal have the right to take part in the investigation against his victim?” Milhim told Al Jazeera.

“We reject and refuse the participation of any Israelis in this kind of investigation. They have to be taken to the International Court. We call on the ICJ to open an investigation into the killing of Shireen and other crimes committed against the Palestinians.”

Milhim also urged the international community to stop the double standards when it comes to the Palestinian cause and the Israeli crimes.

World reacts to killing of AJ journalist by Israeli forces

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

Read more here.

Shireen Abu Akleh [Al Jazeera]
Shireen Abu Akleh [Al Jazeera]

Shireen Abu Akleh: A trailblazer who gave voice to Palestinians

Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian Al Jazeera journalist killed by Israeli forces on Wednesday, was a veteran television correspondent who became a household name across the Arab world for her bold coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Friends and colleagues described Abu Akleh as a brave and kind reporter with an “infectious laugh” who gave voice to the struggles of Palestinians over a career spanning nearly three decades.

Read more here.

Shireen Abu Akleh
Shireen Abu Akleh [Al Jazeera]

International Federation of Journalists to submit Abu Akleh’s case to ICC

Anthony Bellanger, the secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said Abu Akleh’s killing is a “deliberate systematic targeting of a journalist”.

“Yet again journalists, wearing press vests, clearly identified were targeted by Israeli snipers,” he said in a statement. “We will seek to add this case to the ICC complaint submitted by the IFJ, detailing such systematic targeting.”

Palestine Journalists Syndicate slams ‘clear assassination’ of Abu Akleh

The Palestine Journalists Syndicate has decried Abu Akleh’s death as “a clear assassination perpetrated by the Israeli occupation army”.

The syndicate also held the Israeli occupation “fully responsible for this heinous crime against press freedom”, particularly after World Press Freedom Day, which is marked on May 8.

The syndicate stressed that the crime of the occupation that targeted Abu Akleh is” a deliberate and premeditated act and a true assassination operation”.

It called on a clear move to protect fellow journalists from the “continued incitement and killing practiced by the Israeli occupation and all components of the occupation”.

EU urges ‘swift and independent’ probe over Abu Akleh’s killing

The EU delegation to Palestinians has expressed “shock” over the killing of Abu Akleh, calling for “a swift and independent investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice”.

“Imperative to ensure the safety and protection of journalists covering conflicts,” the statement added.

Witness: Israeli forces were shooting to kill

Witness and fellow journalist Shatha Hanaysha says journalists in the scene were pinned down by snipers when Abu Akleh was shot.

She told 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.”

“We were just facing the snipers. If they were not really willing to kill some of us, they could have started shooting before our arrival in this narrow area. I see this as a clear assassination of journalists,” she said.

“The one that killed Shireen was intended to kill her because he shot the bullet at an area of her body that was not protected,” Hanaysha also said.

Hamas: Killing of Abu Akleh is Israel’s latest crime

Hamas, the governing party of the Gaza Strip, has said that the killing of Abu Akleh by the Israeli occupation forces is their latest crime.

The killing “is a new crime added to a series of crimes” committed by Israel, especially against journalism in Palestine.

Palestinian MP: Abu Akleh was our voice

Palestinian Member of Parliament Khalida Jarrar has said that Abu Akleh was the voice of Palestinians and was killed by “the monstrosity of Israeli colonialism and occupation”.

“Shireen was always my voice from the prison cells,” she said, adding that a month into her last detention by Israel, Shireen was the first person she saw at her court hearings.

“Shireen was our voice. It is unbelievable. It is a crime, it is all clear – intentional and direct targeting. She was targeted. It’s clear.”

Israel PM says ‘likely’ Palestinian gunfire killed Abu Akleh

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said it is “likely” that Palestinian gunfire killed the Al Jazeera reporter.

“According to the information we’ve gathered, it appears likely that armed Palestinians – who were indiscriminately firing at the time – were responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist,” Bennett said in a statement.

Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks
Naftali Bennett blames the death of Abu Akleh on Palestinians [File: AFP]

UN envoy urges accountability for killing of Abu Akleh

The UN special envoy for the Middle East peace process, Tor Wennesland, has condemned the killing of Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank.

“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, in occupied West Bank,” Wennesland tweeted.

“I call for an immediate and thorough investigation and for those responsible to be held accountable. Media workers should never be targeted.”

US ambassador to Israel calls for investigation

Tom Nides, the United States envoy to Israel, has called for a probe into the killing of Abu Akleh, who holds US citizenship.

“Very said to learn of the death of American and Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,” he tweeted. “I encourage a thorough investigation into the circumstances of her death and the injury of at least one other journalist today in Jenin.”

HRW: Abu Akleh death not a ‘one-off event’

Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch, said Abu Akleh’s death by Israeli forces is not unusual.

“We know that Israeli forces systematically have used excessive force,” he told Al Jazeera.

“This is an event that needs to be understood in the context of this systemic practice and the killings of many other Palestinian journalists.”

Shakir went on to describe Israeli investigations as a “white-washed mechanism”.

“That is the assessment that’s been reached by human rights organisations including Israeli’s premier human rights organisation B’Tselem,” he said. “When news of crimes is reported, Israeli forces regularly say they’ll investigate. The reality is there is no accountability for those sorts of abuses when it comes to actions by the Israeli authorities.”

Palestinian fighters were not at the scene, journalist says

Ali al-Samoudi, the Al Jazeera journalist who was also shot by Israeli forces next to Abu Akleh but is now in stable condition, said there was no presence of Palestinian armed fighters at the scene.

“We were going to film the Israeli army raid, and suddenly, they shot us without asking us to leave or stop filming,” he said.

“The first bullet hit me and the second bullet hit Shireen. They killed her in cold blood because they are killers and they specialise in killing only the Palestinian people.

“There was no Palestinian military resistance at all at the scene,” he added.

Israeli army denies targeting journalists, offers joint investigation

The Israeli army confirmed it had conducted an operation early Wednesday in the Jenin refugee camp, but denied that it had deliberately targeted journalists.

“The [army,] of course, does not aim at journalists,” a military official said.

The army said there was an exchange of fire between suspects and security forces and that it was “investigating the event and looking into the possibility that journalists were hit by the Palestinian gunmen”.

Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid said Israel has offered a joint investigation with the Palestinians.

Shireen Abu Akleh was ‘professional and persevering’

Al Jazeera reporters have offered their condolences to Abu Akleh’s family and mourned her loss.

“Shireen, for every Palestinian journalist and for every Arab journalist, is a model we lost today,” Al Jazeera journalist Tamer Mishal said. “The tragic pictures that we saw on social media, shot in the head, show that it came from an Israeli sniper who fired a bullet directly at her.”

“Till the very last second, Shireen Abu Akleh was professional and persevering,” he added.

The last message Abu Akleh sent to Al Jazeera was an email at 6:13am (03:13 GMT) in which she wrote: “Occupation forces storm Jenin and besiege a house in the Jabriyat neighbourhood. On the way there, I will bring you news as soon as the picture becomes clear.”

Shireen Abu Akleh
Shireen Abu Akleh [Al Jazeera]

Journalist recounts moment Abu Akleh was targeted by Israeli forces

Shatha Hanaysha, a reporter who was travelling in the same vehicle as Abu Akleh, told Al Jazeera about the Israeli army was adamant on shooting to kill”.

“We were all wearing vests and helmets,” Hanaysha said. “We were four journalists in an exposed area. There were no confrontations or shots being fired by Palestinian fighters.”

The Israeli army was stationed in front of them Hanaysha said, and behind them was a wall.

“The occupation army did not stop firing even after she collapsed,” she said. “I couldn’t even extend my arm to pull her because of the shots.”

Palestinian Authority holds Israel responsible for killing

The Palestinian Authority presidency has denounced Abu Akleh’s killing as a “crime of execution”.

“The presidency holds the Israeli government fully responsible for this heinous crime,” it said in a statement.

The statement said Abu Akleh’s killing “is part of the occupation’s policy of targeting journalists to obscure the truth and commit crimes silently”.

Israel does ‘not take investigations seriously’: rights lawyer

A Palestinian human rights lawyer said Israeli authorities do not take investigations seriously, and there is little chance of holding Israel accountable for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh.

“Every time that there are complaints about specific incidents about alleged war crimes, crimes against humanities or violations against international law happening in the occupied territory, the Israeli army doesn’t take the investigation seriously,” Munir Nuseibah, who is also a professor of international law at Al-Quds University, said.

“There is total impunity in Israel, [and] we do not expect Israel to hold those responsible accountable.”

Nesseba said that what is needed is an international intervention”.

“ICC has jurisdiction in Palestine and is responsible for investigating war crimes in Palestine,” he said. “We expect them to act in this way.”

Al Jazeera condemns ‘blatant murder’

In a statement, Al Jazeera Media Network condemned the “blatant murder” that violates “international laws and norms”, and called Abu Akleh’s death a “heinous crime, through which it is intended to prevent the media from fulfilling its message”.

“We hold the Israeli government and the occupation forces responsible for the killing of the late colleague Shireen,” the statement said.

Al Jazeera Media Network called on the international community to hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for their “intentional targeting and killing” of Abu Akleh.

Qatari official calls for end of ‘state sponsored Israeli terrorism’

Qatar’s deputy foreign minister condemned the killing of the Al Jazeera reporter by “Israeli occupation” in the West Bank.

In a Twitter post, she called for an end to “state sponsored Israeli terrorism”.

Al Jazeera ‘shocked and saddened’ by killing

Giles Trendle, Al Jazeera’s managing director, said that the network was “shocked and saddened” by the killing of Abu Akleh.

Trendle reminded that a building housing the offices of Al Jazeera as well as other media organisations, including The Associated Press news agency, was bombed less than a year ago during Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip.

“We have had a history throughout the world but particularly in this region, where we have had tragedies,” he said, calling for a transparent investigation of the killing of Abu Akleh.

“As journalists, we carry on. Our mission is to carry on. We will not be silenced despite attempts to silence us,” Trendle also said.

“Our mission is always to carry on to inform the world what is happening. And that is more important ever.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies