Calls for a full, independent and transparent investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh are mounting with world leaders demanding that those responsible be held to account.
The veteran journalist, described as an “icon of Palestinian coverage”, was shot by Israeli forces while reporting in Jenin in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday.
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The tragic event has sparked global outrage with the EU urging an “independent” investigation and the UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet saying she was “appalled”. “Impunity must end,” Bachelet said.
This is how the world has reacted so far:
In New York, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, called Abu Akleh’s death “really horrifying” and called for a transparent investigation.
She said protecting American citizens and journalists was “our highest priority.”
We must ensure journalists performing critical work amidst conflict are protected, and we call for an immediate and thorough investigation into this tragedy.
— Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield (@USAmbUN) May 11, 2022
Thomas-Greenfield said Abud Akleh did “an extraordinary interview” with her in the West Bank last November. “I left there feeling extraordinary respect for her,” she said.
The UN Human Rights office urged for an “independent, transparent investigation into her killing. Impunity must end.”
The White House also called for a thorough probe.
“We are heartbroken by and strongly condemn the killing of American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank,” Ned Price, US State Department Spokesman, said on Twitter. “The investigation must be immediate and thorough and those responsible must be held accountable. Her death is an affront to media freedom everywhere,” he added.
Earlier in the day, the US ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, had said on Twitter he was “very sad” to learn about the journalist’s killing and called for “a thorough investigation into the circumstances”.
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
Luis Miguel Bueno, the EU’s spokesperson for the Middle East and North Africa, said on Twitter that he was “shocked” by the killing of Abu Akleh while she was doing her job reporting on Israeli raids in Jenin.
“We express our deepest condolences to her family and call for a swift and independent investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said.
Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said that the killing was “a bloody reminder of the deadly system in which Israel locks Palestinians”.
“Israel is killing Palestinians left and right with impunity,” she added.
The killing of @AlJazeera journalist Shirin Abu Akleh is a bloody reminder of the deadly system in which Israel locks Palestinians. Israel is killing Palestinians left and right with impunity. The international community must act to end #Israel #apartheid. https://t.co/RMitcXtJPG
— Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) May 11, 2022
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 called on the international community to hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for their “intentional targeting and killing” of Abu Akleh.
The Palestinian Authority presidency condemned the killing of Abu Akleh as a “heinous crime”, saying the murder was “part of the [Israeli] occupation’s policy of targeting journalists to obscure the truth and commit crimes silently”.
The Palestinian public prosecution said authorities had started an investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh and would take the case to the international criminal court.
Qatar’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani offered in a post on Twitter his condolences to Abu Akleh’s family and colleagues at Al Jazeera media network.
“Such horrific crimes by the occupation against unarmed Palestinian people should not pass without those responsible being held accountable and should not be subject to double standards,” said al-Thani.
Lolwah Alkhater, Qatar’s deputy foreign minister, called the killing “state sponsored Israeli terrorism” and called for an end to “unconditional support to Israel”.
Israeli occupation killed Aljazeera journalist Sherine Abu Aqleh by shooting her in the face while wearing the Press vest and a helmet. She was covering their attack in Jenin refugee camp. This state sponsored Israeli terrorism must STOP, unconditional support to Israel must END. pic.twitter.com/Zg5QZkJ2bx
— لولوة الخاطر Lolwah Alkhater (@Lolwah_Alkhater) May 11, 2022
Kuwait’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the small Gulf country strongly condemned Israeli forces’ killing of Palestinian journalist Abu Akleh.
The Israeli military said its forces came under attack with heavy gunfire and explosives while operating in Jenin, and that they fired back. The military said it is “investigating the event and looking into the possibility that the journalists were hit by the Palestinian gunmen”.
This account was contradicted by witness reports from Al Jazeera journalists, who said there were no confrontations between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army.
Yair Lapid, Israel’s foreign minister, called on Palestinian authorities to hold a joint investigation into what he called an “unfortunate murder”, saying the Israeli forces would continue to operate everywhere “to prevent terrorism and the killing of Israelis”.
The Egyptian foreign ministry paid tribute to Abu Akleh, condemning in a statement the killing the Palestinian journalist.
“We confirm that this [the killing of Abu Akleh] was a clear and heinous breach of international human rights law,” said the ministry in a statement.
Like other countries, Afghanistan’s foreign ministry paid tribute to the Palestinian veteran journalist and said in a statement: “We condemn the Israeli occupation’s deliberate killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Palestine.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the “assassination” of Abu Akleh.
“Silencing voices of those who tell stories of oppressed people is part of a deliberate strategy employed by Israel & India in Palestine & Occupied Kashmir,” he wrote on Twitter.
Strongly condemn the assassination of respected Al-Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, at the hands of Israeli forces. Silencing voices of those who tell stories of oppressed people is part of a deliberate strategy employed by Israel & India in Palestine & Occupied Kashmir.
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) May 11, 2022
Djibouti’s foreign minister said in a statement that his country condemned Israeli occupation forces’ killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, while recognising her prominent role in reporting on Israeli settlements and aggression against Palestinians.
Neil Wigan, the UK’s ambassador to Israel, said on Twitter: “Journalists must be allowed to work safely and freely. I urge a rapid, thorough and transparent investigation.”
I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of Al Jazeera’s @ShireenNasri in Jenin this morning. Journalists must be allowed to work safely and freely. I urge a rapid, thorough and transparent investigation.
— Neil Wigan (@FCDONeilWigan) May 11, 2022
Zhao Lijian, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said: “We are shocked and heavily oppose the actions of violence against journalists who are on duty and doing their job, we hope that such events of relevance are dealt with according to law and justice.”
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh strongly condemned Abu Akleh’s killing and said it shows what lengths Israel is willing to go to in order to prevent media from reporting the oppression of Palestinians.
He also called on international organisations and global media representatives to investigate the issue and “make sure the Zionist regime is held responsible for this crime”. He added that Israel’s offer to investigate lacks credibility.
The Belgian foreign ministry condemned the killing of Abu Akleh.
“We offer our condolences to her loved ones and call for quick and strict investigation,” it said in a statement.
Human Rights Watch
Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch, said the killing was part of a systematic approach by Israeli 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,” he said.
International Federation of Journalists
Global media rights group the International Federation of Journalists strongly condemned the killing and demanded an “immediate investigation”.
#Palestine 🇵🇸: Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh was shot dead in the head by Israeli troops as she covered a raid on the West Bank's Jenin refugee camp. We strongly condemn this killing and demand an immediate investigation #PressFreedom https://t.co/FmsD54Bfl6
— IFJ (@IFJGlobal) May 11, 2022
Reporters Without Borders
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”.
The killing of journalist Shireen Abu Aqla 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 #JusticeForShireenAbuAqla pic.twitter.com/hIl7pNUE9d
— Christophe Deloire (@cdeloire) May 11, 2022
National Union of Journalists
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ), which represents journalists in the UK and Ireland, said in a statement that it was shocked by the killing and called for a swift investigation to hold those responsible to account.
“Attacks against Palestinian journalists in Israel have been condemned by the NUJ and International Federation of Journalists and action must be taken by Israeli authorities to ensure the safety and protection of journalists in the country,” the NUJ said.