Veteran Palestinian Reporter Shot Dead While Covering Israeli Raid

Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian and US citizen, was shot in the occupied West Bank. Al Jazeera said she had been shot by Israeli forces despite wearing a press vest.

11 May 2022, 12:13pm

A veteran journalist for Al Jazeera has died after being shot in the head while covering an Israeli army raid in the occupied West bank.

Al Jazeera said Shireen Abu Akleh was shot by Israeli forces in Jenin despite wearing a press vest and helmet. Abu Akleh, who also held US citizenship, was a household name who had reported for Al Jazeera for more than 20 years. She was 51.

Colleagues paid tribute to Abu Akhleh as a fearless reporter who died while she was just doing her job. 

Shireen Abu Akleh. PHOTO: Al Jazeera via AP

The Palestinian health ministry reported that she died of her wounds in hospital, and her producer colleague Ali Samoudi was stable after being shot in the back during the same incident on Wednesday morning.

Al Jazeera described the death of their long-time correspondent as “murder,” and urged an international, impartial investigation into the incident. The Qatar-based media group said Abu Akleh was “clearly wearing a press jacket that identifies her as a journalist, covering the Israeli occupation forces storming of Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.”

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A graphic video filmed shortly after Abu Akleh was shot shows a highly distressed colleague standing next to her begging for help, while Palestinian men wearing no body armour try to get her to safety and retrieve Abu Akleh’s body.

PHOTO: Al Jazeera/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a video released by Al Jazeera, Samoudi appeared dressed in a hospital gown speaking about the moment they came under fire. 

“We were going to film [the] Israeli army’s operation, and suddenly they shot us, without asking us to leave or stop filming. The first bullet hit me, and the second hit Shireen,” he said.

Ali Samoudi. PHOTO: JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images

The US ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, said he encouraged a “thorough investigation” into the circumstances of Abu Akleh’s death.

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In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said: “According to the information we have gathered, it appears likely that armed Palestinians – who were firing indiscriminately at the time – were responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist.”

An accompanying video released by the Israeli government showed a masked man shoot down an alley without any other context.

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Israeli human rights group B’Tselem released a video it said had been filmed by a researcher in Jenin that morning that appeared to show that the location of the shooting released by the Israeli government, and the location where Abu Aqleh was shot, happened on separate streets several hundred metres apart.

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Lior Haiat, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said the Israeli government will conduct a “thorough investigation” into Abu Akleh’s death.“A free and fair press is fundamental to Israel and all democracies, and as such, journalists must be protected,” he wrote on Twitter. However, in another tweet the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that “Palestinian terrorists, firing indiscriminately, are likely to have hit” Abu Akleh.

An Al Jazeera spokesperson added: “Al Jazeera extends its sincere condolences to the family of Shireen in Palestine and to her extended family around the world, and we pledge to prosecute the perpetrators legally, no matter how hard they try to cover up their crime, and bring them to justice.”

Abu Akleh and her colleagues were in Jenin to cover the latest Israeli raid on refugee camps, which have been stepped up following a spate of deadly attacks by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs in Israel and the West Bank that have left 18 people dead since March. The Israeli security forces blamed Jenin residents for the attacks and since have carried out almost daily raids resulting in clashes that have left at least 47 Palestinians dead as of the 15th of April, including children and women.

Tagged:

journalism, palestine, The Middle East, Palestinian territories, worldnews

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