Al Jazeera English’s current affairs programme Fault Lines has won the prestigious George Polk Award in the category of foreign television reporting for its short news documentary titled The Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh.
The film detailed the killing of the renowned Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent by Israeli forces on May 11, 2022, winning the channel its second George Polk Award.
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“We are extremely grateful to the George Polk Award judges for their recognition of this film and the immense influence and inspirational legacy that Shireen Abu Akleh left through her journalism, both for Palestinians and millions of viewers around the world,” Laila Al-Arian, Fault Lines executive producer, said in a statement.
The documentary gave a forensic accounting of the events that preceded and followed the shooting, utilising interviews and witness accounts.
Multiple independent investigations into Abu Akleh’s killing, including one by the United Nations, concluded that journalists were fired on by Israeli forces shortly after arriving at Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.
They were shot at despite wearing helmets and blue vests with the word “PRESS” that clearly identified them as journalists.
Key witnesses not interviewed
The Fault Lines team revealed that key witnesses were not interviewed by the Israeli military, raising serious questions about the fairness of the Israeli investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing.
Israel has shifted its narrative on the killing, initially blaming a Palestinian gunman, before months later saying there is a “high possibility” she was “accidentally hit” by Israeli fire. Israel says it will not launch a criminal investigation.
In the film, journalists pressed the administration of United States President Joe Biden on the lack of accountability in the killing of Abu Akleh, who was a US citizen. They also questioned US administration officials on why they have supported the Israeli investigation despite its discrepancies.
“Our whole team worked hard to investigate the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh and we hope this award, which we are deeply humbled to receive, will help in the demand for accountability and justice,” said Kavitha Chekuru, senior producer.
Fault Lines is Al Jazeera English’s main documentary programme that is focused on the US and its role around the world.
The George Polk Awards, presented by Long Island University since 1949, are released annually to honour “excellence in print and broadcast journalism” and reporting that is “original, resourceful, and thought-provoking”.