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Much-anticipated UN investigation: Shireen Abu Aqleh killed by Israeli forces

Protesters carring photos of Shireen Abu Akleh, Lod, Israel, May 22, 2022 (Source: WikiMedia Commons)

The United Nations human rights office has said that the shots that killed well-known Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh on May 11, 2022, came from Israeli forces. Abu Aqleh was covering an Israeli military operation in the Palestinian city of Jenin, West Bank, when she suddenly came under fire while wearing a vest and helmet marked ‘press’.

“Deeply disturbing”

The UN human rights office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in Geneva that the UN human rights office concluded their independent monitoring into the event. She said that “the shots that killed Abu Aqleh and injured her colleague Ali Samodi came from Israeli security forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities.” She added to be “deeply disturbed that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation.”

The UN conducted its monitoring through an inspection of photo, video, and audio materials. It also visited the scene, interviewed experts and witnesses, and investigated information from the Israeli military and Palestinian attorney general. The UN’s conclusions correspond with various investigations conducted by CNN, Bellingcat, and the New York Times.

The UN’s high commission for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, urges Israel to open a criminal investigation into the killing of Abu Aqleh, next to a review of all other killings and military operations of Israeli forces in the Palestinian Territories.

Reaction of Israel’s military

In a reaction, a statement by the Israeli Defence Forces doubt the readings from the UN-led investigation – still taking the possibility of Palestinian fire carrying the blame into account. The statement says that “the IDF investigation clearly concludes that Ms Abu Aqleh was not intentionally shot by an IDF soldier and that it is not possible to determine whether she was killed by a Palestinian gunman shooting indiscriminately in her area or inadvertently by an IDF soldier.” The UN investigation has found no information that there was any activity of armed Palestinians near the journalists.

International reaction needed

Most Western states support a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. However, as Israeli settlers violate Palestinian territory, and IDF forces indiscriminately raid Palestinian villages and towns, this solution seems to become increasingly unrealistic. Israel is an important geo-political partner for the EU, US and other western actors, causing these to have long looked the other way.

The long-awaited investigations of various research collectives into the death of Shireen Abu Aqleh are now published. A more assertive stance of Western states seems necessary to deter Israel from these sort of blatant violations of the Palestinians’ human rights. Otherwise, moving towards the two-state solution will remain a pipe dream. 

Sources: The Guardian Al Jazeera New York Times UN News

Photo: WikiMedia Commons