Al Jazeera reporter dies from Israeli army gunfire in West Bank

Published May 11, 2022
Shireen Abu Akleh was covering Israeli raids on the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. — Al Jazeera
Shireen Abu Akleh was covering Israeli raids on the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. — Al Jazeera

An Al Jazeera reporter was killed by Israeli army gunfire in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, the Qatar-based news channel said.

According to Al Jazeera, Shireen Abu Aqleh was hit by a live bullet, while videos of the incident showed that Abu Aqleh was shot in the head.

One Palestinian official said she had been "assassinated" by Israeli forces while reporting on a raid in the city of Jenin, which has seen intensified army raids in recent weeks as violence has surged.

The Palestinian health ministry has confirmed Abu Aqleh's death and said a second reporter, Ali Samodi, who works for the Jerusalem-based Quds newspaper, had been wounded.

However, in a statement, the Israeli military claimed its troops had shot back after coming under "massive fire" in Jenin and that "there is a possibility, now being looked into, that reporters were hit — possibly by shots fired by Palestinian gunmen".

Meanwhile, a journalist working with Aqleh, Nida Ibrahim, said Aqleh was a “very well respected journalist” who had been working with Al Jazeera since the beginning of the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000. "As you can imagine, this is a shock to the journalists who have been working with her."

Immediately after the news was reported, human rights activists, fellow journalists and politicians took to Twitter to express their condolences.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the "assassination" of the journalist 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 and India in Palestine and Occupied Kashmir," he said.

The Foreign Office (FO) also "strongly condemned" the killing and extended the "deepest condolences" to Aqleh's family.

It said Israel's attempts to silence those who continued to expose its violation would not succeed and instead, revealed the "continued brutality of occupation forces.

"Pakistan calls upon the international community to take urgent action to put an end to the Israeli occupation, which continues to fuel conflict, tension and instability in the region, and remains a matter of grave concern for the entire Muslim world. The Government of Pakistan stands in solidarity with the people and Government of the State of Palestine in their just demand for basic rights and dignity," the FO statement said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom Husam Zomlot said Aqleh was the "most prominent Palestinian journalist and a close friend".

Palestinian American activist Huwaida Arraf demanded the Israel should be held accountable.

TV anchor Hamid Mir also demanded justice for the slain journalist.

AJ+ journalist Sana Saeed wrote Israel "had long targeted press and not been held accountable".

Meanwhile, documentary filmmaker Sakir Khader claimed Aqleh was "murdered in cold blood by an Israeli soldier".

Senior producer at AJ+ Dena Takruri, said that the eyewitness who was standing right by the Al Jazeera journalist described that an Israeli sniper directly targeted her. "This was a shot of extreme precision."

Condemning the incident, Vice News' Hind Hassan emphasised that journalism was not a crime.

US and EU urge transparent and independent probe

The US envoy to the UN said the killing of Abu Aqleh must be “investigated transparently”.

“We're encouraging both sides to participate in that investigation so that we can get down to why this happened,” US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

Washington's “highest priority is protection of American citizens and the protection of journalists”, she added.

Thomas-Greenfield said she had been interviewed by Abu Aqleh during a visit to the region last year and had “extraordinary respect for her”.

State Department spokesman Ned Price added on Twitter, “we are heartbroken” by Abu Aqleh's death.

“Those responsible must be held accountable. Her death is an affront to media freedom everywhere,” he said.

The European Union also condemned the killing and demanded an independent investigation into the circumstances of her death.

“The European Union strongly condemns the killing of Palestinian-American journalist of Al Jazeera, Shireen Abu Aqleh, in the occupied West Bank,” said the statement issued by the EU's External Action Service.

“It is essential that a thorough, independent investigation clarifies all the circumstances of these incidents as soon as possible and that those responsible are brought to justice,” it continued.

“It is unacceptable to target journalists while they perform their job. Journalists covering conflict situations must be ensured safety and protection at all times.”

The European Union statement did not attribute blame for the shooting.

Additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui.



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