The streets of Jenin, West Bank (photo: Flickr)
In the morning of May 11, Al Jazeera said that its well-known reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was shot by Israeli troops during a raid in Jenin, West Bank. It happened amid a period of high tensions between Israel and the Palestinians since the start of the Ramadan.
A reputable journalist
Abu Akleh, 51, was a very well-known and beloved reporter on the Palestinian Territories. Reporters and activists have reacted in shock to this morning’s news. Abu Akleh went to a Jenin refugee camp to report a raid by Israeli security forces. The Palestinian ministry of health reported that she was hit in the head by live ammunition during the raid while wearing a press vest and helmet. She was taken to hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Al Jazeera reacted that “in a blatant murder, violating international laws and norms, the Israeli occupation forces assassinated in cold blood Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Palestine.”
Journalist for Quds News Network Shatha Hanaysha witnessed the incident, saying: “I could have been directly shot too. Even after she fell to the ground the fire did not stop and none of us were able to reach her. A guy was finally able to reach us; he helped me and started pulling her. We were a group wearing press gear, and Shireen was even wearing the helmet. So it is obvious that the one who shot her meant to hit an exposed part of her body. This is an assassination.”
A statement by the Israeli military said it had to respond to “massive fire” in Jenin, but that “there is a possibility, now being looked into, that reporters were hit – possibly by shots fired by Palestinian gunmen.” Israeli PM Naftali Bennett claimed there was “a considerable chance that armed Palestinians, who fired wildly, were the ones who brought about the journalist’s unfortunate death.”
EU and US actors, among others, reacted that they were “shocked”. Tom Nides, US ambassador to Israel said to “encourage a thorough investigation”.
A thorough investigation is indeed crucial to research how these tragic events evolved, and who can be deemed responsible. However, the Israeli conduct in Jenin, which is Palestinian West Bank territory, raises questions. The killing of Abu Akleh, an independent, well-respected member of the press is absolutely unacceptable. It is crucial that Israeli forces act in line with international treaties on humanitarian and human rights law and halt using excessive forms of violence.